Activating the Right Hemisphere Through Left-Hand Muscle Contraction Improves Novel Metaphor Comprehension

Tala Noufi, Maor Zeev-Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The neurotypical brain is characterized by left hemisphere lateralization for most language processing. However, the right hemisphere plays a crucial part when it is required to bring together seemingly unrelated concepts into meaningful expressions, such as in the case of novel metaphors (unfamiliar figurative expressions). The aim of the current study was to test whether it is possible to enhance novel metaphor comprehension through an easy, efficient, and non-invasive method – intentional contraction of the left hand’s muscles, to activate the motor and sensory areas in the contralateral hemisphere. One hundred eighteen neurotypical participants were asked to perform a semantic judgment task involving two-word expressions of four types: literal, conventional metaphors, novel metaphors, or unrelated, while squeezing a rubber ball with their right hand, left hand, or not at all. Results demonstrated that left-hand contraction improved novel metaphor comprehension, as participants were more accurate and quicker in judging them to be meaningful. The findings of the present work provide a simple and efficient method for boosting right hemisphere activation, which can be used to improve metaphoric language comprehension. This method can aid several populations in which right hemisphere function is not fully established, and who struggle with processing figurative language, such as adolescents and individuals on the autistic spectrum.

Original languageEnglish
Article number729814
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume12
DOIs
StatePublished - 14 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • cognitive enhancement
  • figurative language
  • lateralization
  • novel metaphors
  • right hemisphere

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