Difficulty and pleasure in comprehending novel extensions of verb-based metaphors assessed using fNIRS

Project Details


Poetry is difficult, full of allusions, figurations, novel metaphors. But reading poetry is often deeply pleasurable. How is this pleasure related to difficulty? In a preliminary behavioural study, we found that in certain cases an optimal degree of linguistic difficulty (created through variations of familiar verb-based metaphors) increased readers’ pleasurable feeling. Literary theorists have suggested that the pleasure experienced in ‘optimally difficult’ literature is related to an increase in physical sensation and ‘immersiveness’ (e.g., Shklovsky, 1917). In this study, we propose to extend our behavioural study with neuroimaging to establish the relationship between ‘optimal’ linguistic difficulty, pleasure, and neural immersiveness or embodiment (sensorimotor activity). This experiment will provide a basis for an extensive series of studies to further examine how immersion and pleasure are affected by the anticipation of various post-reading tasks (including literary critical analysis), how these then affect reading habits, and how reading habits influence reader wellbeing.
Effective start/end date5/01/2230/06/22


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