The neurological dynamics of the imagination


DOI: 10.1007/s11097-008-9106-2

Cite this article as:
Kaag, J. Phenom Cogn Sci (2009) 8: 183. doi:10.1007/s11097-008-9106-2


This article examines the imagination by way of various studies in cognitive science. It opens by examining the neural correlates of bodily metaphors. It assumes a basic knowledge of metaphor studies, or the primary finding that has emerged from this field: that large swathes of human conceptualization are structured by bodily relations. I examine the neural correlates of metaphor, concentrating on the relation between the sensory motor cortices and linguistic conceptualization. This discussion, however, leaves many questions unanswered. If it is the case that the sensory motor cortices are appropriated in language acquisition, how does this process occur at the neural level? What neural preconditions exist such that this appropriation is possible? It is with these questions in mind that I will turn my attention to studies of neural plasticity, degeneracy and the mirror neuron activation. Whereas some scholarship in philosophy and cognitive neuroscience has aimed to identify the neurological correlates of consciousness, examining plasticity, degeneracy and activation shifts the discussion away from a study of correlates toward an exploration of the neurological dynamics of thought. This shift seems appropriate if we are to examine the processes of the “imagination.”


Imagination Metaphor Mirror neurons Plasticity Degeneracy 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.American Academy of Arts and SciencesHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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