Thank you both for the replies. I think you are saying that there is a distinction between books on prose style (prescriptive) and books on cognition (descriptive).
That may be true, but I still suspect that there has been scientific research into what makes verbal communication more effective, and why that is so. For example, style manuals talk about the importance of coherence & cohesion in writing, and I can't believe that cognitive scientists haven't accounted for that in terms of how the mind simulates objects.
Just doing a random google search for <linguistics coherence cognitive> I found two , of unknown prominence/relevance, which suggest that this line of inquiry does exist:
So I'm in the frustrating situation of knowing that the thing I'm looking for exists, but not knowing where to find it