Publication details [#6459]

Kacinik, Natalie A. and Christine Chiarello. 2007. Understanding metaphors: Is the right hemisphere uniquely involved? Brain and Language 100 (2) : 188–207. 20 pp.


Two divided visual field priming experiments examined cerebral asymmetries for understanding metaphors varying in sentence constraint. Experiment 1 investigated ambiguous words (e.g., SWEET and BRIGHT) with literal and metaphoric meanings in ambiguous and -unambiguous sentence contexts, while Experiment 2 involved standard metaphors (e.g., The drink you gave me was a meteor) with sententially consistent and inconsistent targets (i.e., POTENT vs. COMET). Similar literal and metaphor priming effects were found in both visual fields across most experimental conditions. However, RH processes also maintained activation of sententially inconsistent literal meanings following metaphoric expressions. These results do not strongly support the RH as the preferred substrate for metaphor comprehension (e.g., Anaki, Faust, and Kravetz, 1998; Bottini et al., 1994), and suggest that processes in both hemispheres can support metaphor comprehension, although not via identical mechanisms. The LH may utilize sentence constraint to select and integrate only contextually relevant literal and metaphoric meanings, whereas the RH may be less sensitive to sentence context and can maintain the activation of some alternative interpretations. This may be potentially useful in situations where an initial understanding must be revised. (LLBA, Accession Number 18569114, (c) CSA [2008]. All rights reserved.)