[PS-2.28] Event-related potentials of novel meaning comprehension

Jankowiak, K. 1, 2 , Naskrecki, R. 3 & Rataj, K. 4, 1

1 Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland
2 NanoBioMedical Centre, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland
3 Laboratory of Vision Science and Optometry, Faculty of Physics, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland
4 Faculty of Behavior, Management, and Social Sciences, University of Twente, the Netherlands

ERP research into metaphor comprehension has shown a more pronounced N400 effect to novel than conventional metaphors. Such differences might be attributed to distinct cognitive operations governing novel and conventional meaning interpretation. According to the Career of Metaphor Model, while novel metaphors require comparisons between topic and vehicle, conventional metaphors involve categorization processes. Consequently, novel metaphors presented as similes (A is like B) should be easier to interpret than those presented as categorical statements (A is B). The current experiment aimed at testing this hypothesis using ERPs in order to provide new insights into how the brain creates and integrates novel meanings. The participants performed a semantic decision task to novel categorical metaphors, novel similes, literal, and anomalous sentences. ERP findings showed an interaction between electrode position and utterance type within the 400-500 ms time window (p = .003). The effect was observed over the CPz, Pz and P2 electrodes, where the brainwaves of anomalous sentences, novel categorical metaphors, and novel similes converged and elicited a more robust N400 effect than literal utterances. Thus, within the late N400 time window novel metaphors might have been perceived as anomalous, regardless of whether they were presented in a categorical or comparison form.