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Beyond Laterality: A Critical Assessment of Research on the Neural Basis of Metaphor


Metaphors are a fundamental aspect of human cognition. The major neuropsychological hypothesis that metaphoric processing relies primarily on the right hemisphere is not confirmed consistently. We propose ways to advance our understanding of the neuropsychology of metaphor that go beyond simple laterality. Neuropsychological studies need to more carefully control confounding lexical and sentential factors, and consider the role of different parts of speech as they are extended metaphorically. They need to incorporate recent theoretical frameworks such as the career of metaphor theory, and address factors such as novelty. We also advocate the use of new methods such as voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping, which permits precise and formal tests of hypotheses correlating behavior with lesions sites. Finally, we outline a plausible model for the neural basis of metaphor. (JINS, 2010, 16, 1–5.)

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*Correspondence and reprint requests to: Anjan Chatterjee, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Neurology, 3400 Spruce Street, 3W Gates/Chatterjee, Philadelphia, PA 19104. E-mail:
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Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society
  • ISSN: 1355-6177
  • EISSN: 1469-7661
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