Brain networks underlying novel metaphor production

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Metaphors are widely used to convey abstract concepts and emotions in the arts and everyday life. Neuroimaging research suggests that dynamic interactions among large-scale brain networks, including the default and executive control networks, support the production of such creative ideas. However, the extent to which these networks interact to support other forms of creative language production such as metaphor remains unknown. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we explored this question by assessing functional interactions between brain regions during novel metaphor production. Whole-brain functional connectivity analysis revealed a distributed network associated with metaphor production, including several nodes of the default (precuneus and left angular gyrus; AG) and executive control (right intraparietal sulcus; IPS) networks. Seed-based analyses showed increased connectivity between these network hubs, and temporal connectivity analysis found early coupling of default (left AG) and salience (right anterior insula) regions that preceded later coupling of the left AG and left DLPFC, pointing to a potential switching mechanism underlying default and executive network interaction. The results extend recent work on the cooperative role of large-scale networks in creative cognition, and suggest that metaphor production involves similar brain network dynamics as other forms of goal-directed, self-generated cognition.

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