Quick - What does a lemon taste like?
I know what a lemon tastes like. Tell me something else instead:
What just happened inside your mouth?
David Hoffeld asks another one: Want to know what your brain does when it hears a question?
His article from the website FastCompany.com explores the neurological consequences of hearing a question. Questions temporarily hijack the brain. Did you immediately think about lemons? First, serotonin is released, causing the brain to relax. Next you get a hit of dopamine. The question takes over your thought processes while you think about the answer. The technical term is instinctive elaboration.
The hijacking doesn't last forever. The person who was asked the question can choose to ignore it, can argue against it, can go off on a tangent - though for people with ADHD or bipolar disorder, a question that interrupts our train of thought may cause us to derail.
But Hoffeld cites a number of research studies that document when you ask somebody whether they are going to do something, you increase the probability that they will do it - buy a car, vote in an upcoming election, even donate blood.
Questions not only alter your perception. They can even alter your chemistry. Chances are, when you read the lemon question, you started to salivate.