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date: 11 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay summarizes the findings of studies investigating aspects of linguistic pragmatic behaviour and the brain correlates underlying such behaviour. Although pragmatics is a large field, most brain-oriented studies have focused on specific aspects of linguistic pragmatics such as structural discourse and figurative language. Research indicates that linguistic pragmatic behaviour relies on brain correlates that are routinely activated during word and sentence processing (the default language network). Although no agreement has yet been reached concerning questions such as whether these correlates are qualitatively and/or quantitatively different, whether additional brain areas/networks are implicated, and, if so, what these are, some concrete suggestions have emerged. At a more general level, there is consensus that the classical standard pragmatic model is not supported by most neuroimaging studies and that the right-hemisphere hypothesis on figurative language processing needs revision. The essay ends with some speculations on interpreting pragmatic behaviour within a microgenetic framework.

Keywords: pragmatics, Neuropragmatics, brain, neural substrates, neuroimaging, electrophysiology, event-related potentials, metaphor, idioms, irony, sarcasm, humour, figurative language, non-literal language, standard pragmatic model, right-hemisphere hypothesis

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