Brain responds to metaphor and simile differently

London, May 5: In the 4th century BC Aristotle concluded that “the difference is but slight” between similes and metaphors.

In fact, the metaphor, “He’s a bear in the morning,” means the same as the simile, “He’s like a bear in the morning.”

But our brains, apparently, do not agree with it, Midori Shibata and colleagues at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, have found.

The researchers asked 24 men and women to indicate, while in a functional MRI scanner, whether they could understand a series of metaphors or similes.

As seen in previous fMRI research, participants’ brains were found active in the left inferior frontal gyrus.

But the new thing Shibata’s team has found out is that, when processing similes, there was an increase in activity in the medial frontal region, which may be linked to processes of inference.

And the right inferior frontal gyrus was more active for metaphors, New scientist reported.

According to Shibata, the findings build on research suggesting that “the right IFG has a complementary role in language comprehension”.

In the future, the team hopes to use EEG to put these figurative constructions under the microscope. (ANI)