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Cognitive Neuroscience of Creative Language

Seana Coulson (University of California, San Diego)  
Saturday, May 19th 

Creative language is an internally diverse, fuzzy-edged family of phenomena, relying on brain processes similar to those involved in literal language. I describe experimental studies of how people understand different sorts of creative language phenomena, including both literal and figurative language. These data argue for a dynamic, context-sensitive language processor that exploits conceptual integration, or blending processes capable of handling a diverse array of figurative language. I go on to present a model of multi-modal discourse comprehension in which speakers utilize conceptual integration processes to combine linguistic information with visual-spatial and motoric information made available through gestures. I describe a number of event-related brain potential (ERP) studies that support the model, and consider the claim that artistic creativity is rooted in processes underlying multi-modal discourse comprehension.

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