The effects of metaphoricity and presentation style on brain activation during text comprehension

N. Mashal, Miriam Faust

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Evidence from neuroimaging studies suggests that the right hemisphere contributes significantly to the processing of 2-word metaphoric expressions, whereas metaphoric sentences activate mainly left hemispheric areas. Yet the pattern of brain activation during the processing of metaphors at the text level, beyond simple word pairs or sentences, is still unknown. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine brain activation patterns while 15 healthy participants read either 4-line metaphoric or nonmetaphorical texts. The findings indicate that both text types showed activation in the left and right posterior and anterior superior temporal gyri. Surprisingly, metaphoric texts resulted in significantly lower activation than nonmetaphoric texts in the anterior superior temporal gyri. The results are interpreted as indicating that presentation style affects brain activation, and that text processing may rely on a complicated interaction between metaphoricity (metaphoric, nonmetaphoric) and text presentation style (poetic, prosaic).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-33
Number of pages15
JournalMetaphor and Symbol
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for this work was provided by a grant from the U.S.–Israel Binational Science Foundation (grant 2003317) to Miriam Faust. We would like to thank Chen Kleinman for useful assistance in preparing the linguistic stimuli.


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