Analogical reasoning

My research field is oriented toward two main topics: analogies and creativity. In each of these axes, I aim to understand the cognitive mechanisms of these functions, and explore their cerebral substrate.

A good speech should be like a woman's skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”

This metaphorical quote from Winston Churchill illustrates how an analogy between remote domains such as a woman’s skirt and a speech can help to convey a message or explain a concept. Analogies play a central role in human cognition and mental life, ranging from basic comprehension of everyday situations, forming categories, understanding and creating new concepts, to humor, abstract thinking and creativity.

In analogical reasoning, a source situation (for instance a woman’s skirt) is compared and matched to a target situation (for instance a speech) because they share the same relationships (between length and attractiveness). According to analogy theories, analogical reasoning engages the consideration of multiple relationships between information, the formation of structured relational representations of this information, and the mapping of these representations.

Previous functional imaging studies have repeatedly pointed to the left rostrolateral prefrontal cortex as an essential region for analogies.

Aims of this research program:

· To better understand the role of the left rostrolateral prefrontal region in the cognitive processes involved in analogical reasoning

· To identify the connectivity of this region with other brain networks and its relationship with distinct analogy processes

· To determine the critical brain nodes for analogical reasoning

Methods:

· Experimental psychology

· Lesion approach

· Voxel-based morphometry

· Diffusion imaging and tractography

· Functional connectivity

· Brain electrostimulation (TMS, direct peroperative brain stimulation)

· Surface and intracranial EEG

Left rostrolateral PFC and analogy