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Metaphor Comprehension and the Right Hemisphere and the Connectionist Paradigm


Igor Lima Maldonado

Objective: To review the current status of the contribution of connectionism to the understanding of the participation of the right cerebral hemisphere in metaphor interpretation and semantic processing.

Materials and methods: Literature review and discussion of recent advances in the field. The subject is illustrated with a real case of a right-handed man in whom an ischemic stroke was at the origin of metaphor interpretation impairment.

Results: The interpretation of new, previously unknown, metaphors seems particularly sensitive to lesion of the right cerebral hemisphere. Both hemispheres and different cortical zones are implicated, however, their engagement does not appear to be static and vary according to the requested task. Impairment in working memory can also influence the clinical performance on metaphor interpretation after cerebral damage.

Conclusion: The participation of the right cerebral hemisphere to metaphor processing highlights the necessity to conceive the semantic processing in the form of a system of distributed networks. The clinical consequences of right hemisphere damage are detectable and quantifiable in the acute setting.

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