Poster C1, Friday, August 17, 10:30 am – 12:15 pm, Room 2000AB

The critical role of interference control during novel metaphor comprehension

Hee-Dong Yoon1, Min-Suk Kang2, Tae-Hyun Yoo1, Hyeon-Ae Jeon1,3;1Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST), Daegu, Republic of Korea, 2Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Republic of Korea, 3Partner Group of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, DGIST, Daegu, Republic of Korea

Use of figurative language such as metaphors enriches our communication and it requires considerable cognitive efforts for choosing the adequate meaning of words (Bohrn et al., 2012). Specifically, altering familiarity of metaphors (Columbus et al., 2015) and context in which metaphoric utterance is used (Prat et al., 2012) imposes additional processing demands on executive functions (Carriedo et al., 2016). Therefore, we aimed to investigate the effect of familiarity and context on metaphor processing, emphasizing the influence of individuals’ executive functions measured by various neuropsychological tests. Participants read 120 two-sentence pairs in Korean. The first sentence was used as either supporting or opposing context, while the second sentence had a metaphoric expression in the form of “X is a Y” (e.g., “She is a night owl.”). We had four experimental conditions: a supporting context with a familiar metaphor (SC-FM) or a novel metaphor (SC-NM), and an opposing context with a familiar metaphor (OC-FM) or a novel metaphor (OC-NM). In result, accuracy data showed main effects in both context (more accurate in OC than in SC: [F(1,19)=25.81, p<.001]) and familiarity (more accurate in FM than in NM: [F(1,19)=17.57, p<.001]). A significant interaction was observed between familiarity and context [F(1,19)=9.72, p<.01], showing that the difference in accuracy between FM and NM was greater in SC than in OC. With respect to response time (RT), we found main effects in both context (faster in SC than in OC: [F(1,19)=25.03, p<.001]) and familiarity (faster in FM than in NM: [F(1,19)=75.79, p<.001]). A significant interaction was observed between the familiarity and the context [F(1,19)=4.65, p<.05], demonstrating that the difference in the RT between FM and NM was greater in OC than in SC. More interestingly, we found a significant correlation between scores of the Stroop test and the RTs in SC-NM condition [r=.45, p<.05]. This indicates that people showing high performance in the Stroop test, compared to low performers, inhibit conventional meanings of words more effectively when processing novel metaphors. Taken together, these results suggest that the interference controlling mechanisms that operate in the Stroop test play an important role in processing a novel metaphor by inhibiting its familiar meaning and choosing a less familiar meaning that is contextually more appropriate. Key Topic: metaphor, familiarity, context, executive function

Topic Area: Control, Selection, and Executive Processes