The role of the right cerebral hemisphere in processing novel metaphoric expressions taken from poetry: A divided visual field study

M. Faust, N. Mashal

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125 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous research suggests that the right hemisphere (RH) may contribute uniquely to the processing of metaphoric language. However, most studies have focused on familiar metaphoric expressions. The present study used the divided visual field paradigm to examine the role of the right cerebral hemisphere in processing novel metaphoric expressions taken from poetry. In two experiments, participants were presented with four types of word pairs, literal, conventional metaphoric and novel metaphoric expressions and unrelated word pairs, and asked to perform a semantic judgment task. Two different SOAs: 400 and 1100 ms were used. The results of both experiments showed that responses to LVF/RH presented target words were more accurate and faster than responses to RVF/LH target words for novel metaphoric expressions, but not for other types of word pairs. These results support previous research indicating that during word recognition, the RH activates a broader range of related meanings than the LH, including novel, nonsalient meanings. The findings thus suggest that the RH may be critically involved in at least one important component of novel metaphor comprehension, i.e., the integration of the individual meanings of two seemingly unrelated concepts into a meaningful metaphoric expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)860-870
Number of pages11
JournalNeuropsychologia
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Mar 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Bat-Chen Efrati, Inna Schneiderman, and Tamar Manor for the useful assistance in conducting the experiments. This research was partially supported by grant # 2003317 from the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF).

Funding

We would like to thank Bat-Chen Efrati, Inna Schneiderman, and Tamar Manor for the useful assistance in conducting the experiments. This research was partially supported by grant # 2003317 from the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF).

FundersFunder number
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation

    Keywords

    • Hemispheres
    • Metaphors
    • Poetry
    • Salience
    • Semantic processing
    • Visual fields

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