Dissertation > Language, writing > Linguistics > Linguistic theory and methodology > The relationship between language and other disciplines

The Tentative Neurological Analysis of Metaphor’s Positive Influence on Creativity

Author LiuXiao
Tutor DengHongFeng
School Ocean University of China
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords metaphor dopamine creativity SLA dendrites brain connectivity
CLC H0-05
Type Master's thesis
Year 2012
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Within the framework of cognitive linguistics, language is metaphoricallystructured. Since metaphor is a kind of thinking pattern we live by, it’s advantageousfor the study of metaphor to concern neurological knowledge. The paper is based onthe neurolinguistic theories of metaphor, investigations of creative process in the brain,and recent discoveries on metaphor and human brain activity, as well as a limitedexperiment with50participants. The thesis intends to describe metaphor’s positiveinfluence on creativity. The argument will be demonstrated through three aspects:metaphor’s fundamental role in SLA, its ability to picturize abstract phenomenon, andnovel metaphor’s emotional effects. Coincidently, the three features of metaphor aredirectly or indirectly correlated with key neurotransmitter dopamine andmemory-concerning dendrites, both of which are essential in improving braincreativity.Research in metaphor has become one of the fastest growing and significantareas of linguistic study. Many scholars have found that it’s necessary andadvantageous to combine the metaphor theories with second language acquisition andforeign language teaching. SLA has great impact on the release of dopamine directlyand indirectly. The secretion of dopamine can be increased by reward stimulusprovided by the fulfilling of anticipation in the process of SLA. Besides, the level ofaccuracy and the speed in phonological processing could improve the efficiency ofreleased dopamine in the brain. Indirectly, experiments have discovered thatextroversion is enhanced by SLA, while most of the extroverts possess a high-level ofdopamine.Metaphorical expression has been generally categorized into four types, and allof them share at least one similarity—making abstract concepts concrete and vivid.The ability to picturize abstractness is coincidently associated with the growth of dendritic arbors, which have been found necessary in the development of humanmemory and learning ability.The third aspect is about the emotional effects triggered by novel metaphors.Novel metaphors from Internet or foreign languages, usually can provide a kind of"Aha, that’s interesting" effect. For example, in Russian,"Сеичас идёт снег", theverb used here is "walk" in English, so instead of saying "It’s snowing", the phrase ismore like “The snowing is walking”. More than making people laugh, metaphor’semotional effects can even shape the brain structure.The thesis will illustrate the positive influence of metaphor on creativity mainlythrough the above three aspects. To further prove this argument, a limitedinvestigation has been conducted to50participants from different countries. Theresults of the investigation have also demonstrated that students who have mastered atleast one foreign language represent an obviously higher level of creativity. However,the experiment is limited, and the theoretical foundation of the paper still requiresfurther investigation. The paper tries to reveal a small part of the hidden relationsbetween language, metaphor and the brain creativity, with the hope of providing just alittle inspiration to qualitative scholars who are interested in this field.

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