Tomohiro Taira, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Faculty of Liberal Arts, Sciences and Global Education
Osaka Metropolitan University

Contact Information

Office: 3-3-138 Sugimoto Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka-shi, 558-8585 JAPAN

Research Interests

  • Metaphor comprehension
  • Pragmatics
  • Embodied cognition in Language Comprehension
  • High School–University Articulation

Recent Publications

Taira, T., Kusumi, T., & Utsumi, A. (2012). Individuals’ process of metaphor interpretations and interestingness cognition. The proceedings of the 34th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2381-2386.[Archives]
In this paper, we investigated the process of interestingness cognition in metaphor comprehension. We did this from the point of view that the interestingness of a metaphor (e.g., “life is like a gamble”) is related to its interpretative diversity. Two studies were conducted to assess this phenomenon: Study 1 (interpretation-production) and Study 2 (interpretation-presentation study). In Study 1, we observed that a greater number of interpretations were produced from a metaphor that was interesting and easy to understand as compared to one that was less interesting and difficult to understand. In Study 2, we observed that a metaphor was more interesting when more information on simile interpretation was presented. On the basis of these results, we discuss the relationship between the process of metaphor comprehension and metaphor evaluation.
Taira, T. & Kusumi, T. (2012). Relevant/Irrelevant meanings of topic and vehicle in metaphor comprehension. Metaphor & Symbol, 27(3), 243-257.[Article Info]
Meaning activation and suppression are used for metaphor comprehension, especially for the categorization, which is related to the vehicle’s conventionality and metaphor’s interactivity. In the categorization, the vehicle in a metaphor activates the metaphor-relevant meaning, but suppresses the metaphor-irrelevant meaning. However, the relationships between the strength of activation/suppression and the factors that predict the categorization have not been sufficiently examined. In addition, the previous studies did not show the meaning process of topic in metaphor comprehension. Our two experiments examined the meaning process of both topic and vehicle in metaphor comprehension by using a priming method and a meaningfulness decision task. Our experiments revealed that only the highly interactive metaphor with highly conventional vehicle activates the metaphor-relevant meaning in the vehicle, but that all metaphors suppress the metaphor-irrelevant meaning. We also revealed that the topic both as metaphor-relevant meaning and as metaphor-irrelevant meaning is activated in metaphor comprehension.
Taira, T. & Kusumi, T. (2011). The topic comprehension process in simile sentences. The proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2156-2161.[Archives]
Our study investigates the process of topic comprehension in comparative sentences and the relationship between this process and the word order of topic and vehicle. Our experiment used a meaningfulness decision task with three conditions: no-vehicle sentence (e.g. a word hurts someone), vehicle-after-topic sentence (e.g. a word, like a weapon, hurts someone), and vehicle-before-topic sentence (e.g. like a weapon, a word hurts someone.) The results of the meaningfulness decision task show that the vehicle-after-topic sentence and the vehicle-before-topic sentence were judged as meaningful more quickly than the no-vehicle sentence. Especially in comparative sentences with low conventional vehicle, the vehicle-before-topic sentences were judged more quickly than the vehicle-after-topic sentences.
Taira, T. & Kusumi, T. (2011). A review of metaphor research. The Japanese journal of psychology, 82(3), 283-299 (written in JAPANESE).[Archives]
The study of the metaphor is interdisciplinary and focuses mostly on three points in cognitive psychology: (a) the cognition of metaphoricity, (b) metaphor comprehension processes, and (c) the reason why one concept is represented by another concept as a metaphor. This article reviews the history of research on the metaphor from these three perspectives. Most recent studies support the following viewpoints. Metaphor comprehension is as quick and automatic as literal comprehension. Metaphor comprehension entails the processes of comparison and abstraction. The reason why one concept is compared with another concept is strongly related with the motivation process of combination between different concepts such as embodied cognition.