Publication details [#12879]

Coulson, Seana and Cyma Van Petten. 2002. Conceptual integration and metaphor: An event-related potential study. Memory & Cognition 30 (6) : 958–968. 11 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
New York: Springer Link


Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were recorded from 18 normal adults as they read sentences that ended with words used literally, metaphorically, or in an intermediateliteral mapping condition. In the latter condition, the literal sense of the word was used in a way that prompted readers to map conceptual structure from a different domain. ERPs measured from 300 to 500 msec after the onset of the sentence-final words differed as a function of metaphoricity: Literal endings elicited the smallest N400, metaphors the largest N400, whereas literal mappings elicited an N400 of intermediate amplitude. Metaphoric endings also elicited a larger posterior positivity than did either literal or literal mapping words. Consistent with conceptual blending theory, the results suggest that the demands of conceptual integration affect the difficulty of both literal and metaphorical language.