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Laterality. 2012;17(5):602-14. doi: 10.1080/1357650X.2011.599936. Epub 2011 Nov 14.

Metaphors and verbal creativity: the role of the right hemisphere.

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The Leslie and Susan Gonda-Goldschmied Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel.


Ample research suggests that the right cerebral hemisphere plays a central role in verbal creativity as well as in novel metaphor comprehension. The aim of the present study was to directly examine the relation between verbal creativity and right hemisphere involvement during novel metaphor comprehension. Thus 30 healthy adults were asked to fill in the Hebrew version of the Remote Association Test to assess their level of creativity. In addition, reaction times and error rates were measured while these participants performed a semantic judgement task on two word expressions presented in a divided visual field paradigm. The word pairs comprised four types of semantic relations: novel metaphors, conventional metaphors, literal word pairs, and meaningless word pairs. Correlations were conducted to assess the relation between level of creativity and processing of the four pair types in the two cerebral hemispheres. The main finding was of a significant negative correlation between degree of creativity and reaction times to novel metaphor processing in the right hemisphere, thus supporting the involvement of this cerebral hemisphere in both tasks. Results are discussed in light of linguistic theories and recent neuroscientific evidence regarding relative hemispheric involvement during semantic processing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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