Metaphor comprehension in Alzheimer's disease: Novelty matters

Martina Amanzio, Giuliano Geminiani, Daniela Leotta, Stefano Cappa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The comprehension of non-literal language was investigated in 20 probable Alzheimer's disease (pAD) patients by comparing their performance to that of 20 matched control subjects. pAD patients were unimpaired in the comprehension of conventional metaphors and idioms. However, their performance was significantly lower in the case of non-conventional (novel) metaphor comprehension. This ability was not related to global cognitive deterioration or to deficits in the cognitive domains of attention, memory and language comprehension. On the other hand, the impairment in verbal reasoning appeared to be relevant for both novel and conventional metaphor comprehension. The relationship between novel metaphor comprehension and performance in the visual-spatial planning task of the Behavioral Assessment of the Dysexecutive Syndrome (BADS) suggests that executive impairment, possibly related to prefrontal dysfunction, may be responsible for the pAD patients' poor performance in novel metaphor comprehension. The present findings suggest a role of the prefrontal cortex in novel metaphor comprehension.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008


  • "Conventional" metaphors
  • "Novel" metaphors
  • Executive functions
  • Metacognition
  • Verbal reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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