Title

From novel to familiar: Tuning the brain for metaphors

DOI

10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.11.079

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2-15-2012

Publication Title

NeuroImage

Volume

59

Issue

4

First Page

3212

Last Page

3221

ISSN

10538119

Keywords

Career of metaphor, Familiarity, Figurative language, FMRI, Novelty, Right hemisphere

Abstract

Metaphors are fundamental to creative thought and expression. Newly coined metaphors regularly infiltrate our collective vocabulary and gradually become familiar, but it is unclear how this shift from novel to conventionalized meaning happens in the brain. We investigated the neural career of metaphors in a functional magnetic resonance imaging study using extensively normed new metaphors and simulated the ordinary, gradual experience of metaphor conventionalization by manipulating participants' exposure to these metaphors. Results showed that the conventionalization of novel metaphors specifically tunes activity within bilateral inferior prefrontal cortex, left posterior middle temporal gyrus, and right postero-lateral occipital cortex. These results support theoretical accounts attributing a role for the right hemisphere in processing novel, low salience figurative meanings, but also show that conventionalization of metaphoric meaning is a bilaterally-mediated process. Metaphor conventionalization entails a decreased neural load within semantic networks rather than a hemispheric or regional shift across brain areas. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

Open Access

Green Accepted

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