An ERP Study on Metaphors in Chinese Two-character Expressio | 47382

Clinical and Experimental Psychology


An ERP Study on Metaphors in Chinese Two-character Expression

Pei Su, Minghu Jiang and Chen Bai

In this paper, we aim to study the metaphorical comprehension in Chinese two-character lexicons using event related potentials (ERPs). Focusing on ERP components such as N400 and P600, we have proven that: (1) The metaphorical effect revealed by ERPs not only shows in the sentence level of “A is B” form, but also shows in lexical level. The metaphorical stimulus evoked a more negative N400 compared with the literal ones. (2) While both conventional metaphor and literal lexicon expressions were rated similarly in familiarity and accesibility, the ERP results showed that the conventional metaphors required a short burst of additional processing effort when compared with literal sentences. (3) A significant P600 effect appeared in metaphorical words comprehending. It indicates that the metaphor lexicon (like “云游”, yun2-you2, and wonder) can cause unexpectedness when it appeared after the targeted word (“云”, cloud). And this unexpectedness triggered a significant P600. It suggests that in Chinese, people would process the literal meaning of the targeted word directly, and then rechecking it according to other contextual information. This indicates that incongruity is a strong factor to trigger the reanalysis process in both metaphors and literal sentences. Further studies are needed to give more evidence to the P600 effect in Chinese sematic incongruity condition.