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Slide Slam F4

N400 modulations in metaphor processing and its associations with attentional systems: A behavioral and ERP study

Slide Slam Session F, Wednesday, October 6, 2021, 6:00 - 8:00 am PDT Log In to set Timezone

Shay Menashe1,2, Nira Mashal1, David Anaki1; 1Bar-Ilan University, 2Beit-Berl College

Although metaphoric language is one of the most common expressions of creativity in everyday life, the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying conventional and novel metaphors processing are not fully understood. In particular, the role of attention in metaphor comprehension is lacking. The first aim of the current study was to explore the nature of the N400 event-related potential (ERP) component in metaphor processing. The N400 is thought to reflect an online neurocognitive measure of semantic integration in the brain. The second aim of this study was to investigate whether the processing of conventional and novel metaphors is related to different attentional systems. Twenty-three students from Bar-Ilan university performed a metaphor novelty assessment (MNA) task while ERPs were recorded. In this task, participants were presented with expressions (e.g., feeling sad is like crying a river) and were asked to decide how creative and novel is each expression. In addition, a short version of the attention network test (ANT) was administered to investigate three attention networks, alerting, orienting, and executive control. The behavioral results of the MNA task showed that novel metaphors were rated slower and as more novel compared to the conventional metaphors. The ERP parameters indicated that for the novel metaphors, the N400 amplitudes were enhanced and peaked later compared to those produced by the conventional metaphors. Moreover, conventional metaphor processing was associated with the orienting attentional system, while novel metaphor processing was associated with executive control and the alerting system. The findings are discussed in terms of different cognitive demands on conventional and novel metaphor processing, and that different attentional systems may contribute to the processing of the two metaphor types.

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