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Metaphor, simile, analogy and the brain

Riddell, P. (2016) Metaphor, simile, analogy and the brain. Changing English, 23 (4). pp. 362-373. ISSN 1358-684X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/1358684X.2016.1228443


Fox (1993) argues that the poetic function of language fulfils the human need to symbolize. Metaphor, simile and analogy provide examples of the ways in which symbolic language can be used creatively. The neural representations of these processes therefore provide a means to determine the neurological basis of creative language. Neuro-imaging has demonstrated that while metaphor, simile and analogy activate some areas of the brain in common, they also each activate different areas. This suggests that creative language has had sufficient evolutionary importance to be processed within more than one neural system. Additionally, the neuro-imaging data suggests that symbolic language activates areas beyond the language centres and therefore is encoded using sensorimotor representations. Here we will discuss the neural representations of metaphor, simile and analogy, and will reflect on the neural systems which have evolved to support symbolic language and how this understanding might be used to help develop skill in creative language.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Language and Cognition
ID Code:67235
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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