Reading Metaphors and Individual Differences in the Brain

Researchers at the University of Washington and Carnegie Mellon found that reading and comprehending metaphors had very different patterns of brain activation depending on whether statements were provided in context. In the right context, metaphor comprehension was an easy - required much less brain work- but with neutral or opposite context, look how much effort was expended. In the opposite context, the metaphor was ironic or sarcastic.

- If students aren't 'getting it', they may need more context
- Irony needs a brain workout - no wonder irony is more common among brainy types

Other interesting findings:
- right temporoparietal was active for all figurative vs. literal conditions
- the metaphor area largely overlap an area associated with verbal analogical reasoning
- the benefits of context was stronger among individuals with stronger working memory
- increased right hemispheric activation was noted among lower vocabulary individuals under all processing conditions - (could some have mild dyslexia?)
- not all students are alike - researchers noted fMRI differences among students with different working memory and vocabulary - simple reading fMRI studies may need to consider more cognitive variables in their design of tests

All the subjects were students at Carnegie Mellon University

Reading Metaphors and Individual Differences Brain fMRI

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