ERP evidence for conceptual mappings and comparison processes during the comprehension of conventional and novel metaphors

Vicky Tzuyin Lai, Tim Curran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cognitive linguists suggest that understanding metaphors requires activation of conceptual mappings between the involved concepts. We tested whether mappings are indeed in use during metaphor comprehension, and what mapping means as a cognitive process with Event-Related Potentials. Participants read literal, conventional metaphorical, novel metaphorical, and anomalous target sentences preceded by primes with related or unrelated mappings. Experiment 1 used sentence-primes to activate related mappings, and Experiment 2 used simile-primes to induce comparison thinking. In the unprimed conditions of both experiments, metaphors elicited N400s more negative than the literals. In Experiment 1, related sentence-primes reduced the metaphor-literal N400 difference in conventional, but not in novel metaphors. In Experiment 2, related simile-primes reduced the metaphor-literal N400 difference in novel, but not clearly in conventional metaphors. We suggest that mapping as a process occurs in metaphors, and the ways in which it can be facilitated by comparison differ between conventional and novel metaphors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-496
Number of pages13
JournalBrain and Language
Volume127
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Analogy
  • Categorization
  • Comparison
  • Conventionality
  • ERP
  • Metaphor
  • N400
  • Priming
  • Sentence processing
  • Simile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'ERP evidence for conceptual mappings and comparison processes during the comprehension of conventional and novel metaphors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this