Functional-anatomical organization of predicate metaphor processing

Brain Lang. 2008 Dec;107(3):194-202. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2008.06.007. Epub 2008 Aug 9.


The bulk of the research on the neural organization of metaphor comprehension has focused on nominal metaphors and the metaphoric relationships between word pairs. By contrast, little work has been conducted on predicate metaphors using verbs of motion such as "The man fell under her spell." We examined predicate metaphors as compared to literal sentences of motion such as "The child fell under the slide" in an event-related, functional MRI study. Our results demonstrated greater activation in the left inferior frontal cortex and left lateral temporal lobe for predicate metaphors as compared to literal sentences, while no differences were seen in homologous areas of the right hemisphere. We suggest that the results support a neural organization principle for motion processing in which greater abstraction proceeds along a posterior-to-anterior axis within the lateral portion of the left temporal cortex.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cerebrum / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebrum / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Comprehension / physiology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Language
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Metaphor*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reading
  • Semantics
  • Temporal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology
  • Word Association Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult