Brain understands metaphors literally

February 6, 2012 16:58

To deal with the metaphorical expression, our brains seek additional information directly to those feelings, on which the metaphor.

Brain activity when reading Braille by touch (photo Wellcome Dept. Of Cognitive Neurology).
As we understand metaphorical statements? When we hear someone say that he was a "bad day", we know that the adjective "heavy" is used in a figurative sense, "bad day" does not necessarily mean that the speaker all day lugging gravity. (In this example, we are dealing with an epithet, but resort to the term "metaphor", summing up the trail as such.) However, according to neuroscientists at Emory University (USA), our brain perceives some metaphors literally. But perhaps that is what allows us to be aware of their meaning.

The subjects listened to a few phrases based on the tactile metaphors (eg, "rough style"). Along with metaphoric sentences subjects heard the phrase, which describes the properties of the surface directly or interpretative, disclosing the value heard "palpable" metaphors. If people knew that he was told he had to press the button. Brain activity was recorded while using fMRI. It should be noted that these same volunteers, researchers conducted another experiment: they analyze which areas of the brain process the texture information obtained by means of touch or sight. So now that the authors were able to pinpoint each of the participants, does the tactile information processing metaphorical speech.

As the researchers report in the journal Brain & Language, distanced itself from the visual cortex processing tactile verbal metaphors. But a close involvement of centers responsible for the analysis of tactile sensations. That is, if we hear of a "rough ways," the brain to analyze metaphors requests including tactile information. At the same time, curiously, normal speech, describing the texture or reveal the meaning of metaphor, to touch not addressed. In general, to understand the artistic technique, the brain needed additional capacity.

On the other hand, the Wernicke's area and Broca's area responsible for speech recognition and speech coding, did not respond to metaphors, their activity was the same as that of normal, nemetaforicheskoy speech. However, the authors make a reservation: the results do not reject the role of these areas in the understanding of metaphors. In the near future, the researchers plan to continue to study the brain activity in the analysis of metaphors and images, not only tangible: possible, so we can understand how it is encoded and symbolic thinking.

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