Laterality in metaphor processing: lack of evidence from functional magnetic resonance imaging for the right hemisphere theory

Brain Lang. 2007 Feb;100(2):142-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2006.04.004. Epub 2006 May 4.


We investigated processing of metaphoric sentences using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Seventeen healthy subjects (6 female, 11 male) read 60 novel short German sentence pairs with either metaphoric or literal meaning and performed two different tasks: judging the metaphoric content and judging whether the sentence has a positive or negative connotation. Laterality indices for 8 regions of interest were calculated: Inferior frontal gyrus (opercular part and triangular part), superior, middle, and inferior temporal gyrus, precuneus, temporal pole, and hippocampus. A left lateralised network was activated with no significant differences in laterality between the two tasks. The lowest degree of laterality was found in the temporal pole. Other factors than metaphoricity per se might trigger right hemisphere recruitment. Results are discussed in the context of lesion and hemifield studies.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Comprehension / physiology*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Metaphor*
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Recruitment, Neurophysiological / physiology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology