ERP and behavioral evidence of individual differences in metaphor comprehension

Victoria A. Kazmerski, Dawn Blasko, Banchiamlack G. Dessalegn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


In two experiments, we examined individual differences in metaphor processing. In Experiment 1, the subjects judged the literal truth of literal, metaphorical, and scrambled sentences. Overall, metaphors were more difficult to judge as false, in comparison with scrambled controls, suggesting that the metaphorical meaning was being processed automatically. However, there were individual differences in that high-IQ subjects showed more interference. These effects were reflected in ERP amplitude differences at the onset of N400 and after the response. In Experiment 2, the subjects completed IQ tests and a series of working memory tests and then rated and interpreted the same set of metaphors. The results showed that IQ was correlated with working memory capacity and that low-IQ subjects had similar ratings but poorer quality interpretations than did high-IQ subjects. The results were most consistent with a constraint satisfaction approach to metaphor comprehension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-689
Number of pages17
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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