Embodied Metaphor Processing: A Study of the Priming Impact of Congruent and Opposite Gestural Representations of Metaphor Schema on Metaphor Comprehension

Metaphor and Symbol 38 (1):70-80 (2023)
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This study examined the performances of three groups of participants in interpreting metaphors in three different conditions: congruent gesture-prime conditions, opposite gesture-prime conditions, and no-prime conditions. In congruent gesture-prime conditions, each metaphor was preceded by the congruent gestural representation of metaphor schema. In opposite gesture-prime conditions, each metaphor was preceded by the opposite gestural representation of metaphor schema. The results showed that participants of congruent gesture-prime conditions had the best performance in interpreting metaphors, while participants of opposite gesture-prime conditions had the worst performance. It is suggested that metaphor schema is an important part of metaphorical meaning of a metaphor. Therefore, when this part of meaning is activated by a gestural prime, metaphor comprehension is facilitated. Furthermore, when a schema is used to metaphorically describe a concept or an event, that schema and the neural network that represents it become one part of a larger interconnected neural network that represents the meaning of the metaphor. It could mean that the activation of one part of it could facilitate the activation of the whole of the network. Finally, it is emphasized that a gesture that depicts the schema of a metaphor is in fact the embodied realization of that metaphor.



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