Metaphorical thinking is well-recognized for its importance in creative thinking and all types of hypothesis-drive research. It is the bridge between abstract thinking and concrete reality, so no wonder it is organized in crossmodal areas of the brain (like the angular gyrus), where all sensory areas mix together.
Metaphors are important to be aware of, because they aren't just the stuff of assigned papers in English. We often think, decide, and plan based on metaphorical assumptions of which we may not be fully aware.
One interesting link below is to a study that looked at the metaphors college students used to describe how they learned in lecture classes (Tape Recorder, Stenographer, Sponge, Reporter, etc.). The metaphors were fairly predictive of student performance, raising the issue that metaphors could constrain as well as facilitate students' approaches to learning.
Science & Technology at Scientific American.com: Brain Region Linked to Metaphor Comprehension
Conceptual Models Students Live By - Abstract
Metaphors We Compute By
Conceptual Metaphor at Wikipedia
American Scientist Online - Metaphorical Thinking
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Action! Experiencing Words Through Reading
Metaphors and Analogies in Scientific Thinking
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