Verbal dichotic listening in right and left-handed adults: Laterality effects of directed attention

Academic Article


  • Dichotic listening performance of consonant vowel stimuli was studied in 51 adult right- and left-handers in three attention conditions: non-directed and directed to either the right or left ear. In the non-directed condition, a significant right-ear advantage was found in both handedness groups with a stronger asymmetry in right-handers. There are at least three explanations for this ear bias. The classic or structural hypothesis suggests that to the right ear projects more strongly to the language dominant left hemisphere. The callosal relay hypothesis is based on the influence of inhibitory connections via the corpus callosum. The attentional hypothesis suggests that each hemisphere primarily directs attention to contralateral space and because the left hemisphere is dominant for language in both groups, and is aroused by speech stimuli, attention is primarily directed to the right ear. Neither hypothesis can explain why greater than 95% of right-handers have left hemisphere language dominance, but only 70-80% have a right ear bias. Our results demonstrate that in the directed attention conditions both groups increased their lateral biases when directed to either the right or left. The classic or structural hypothesis cannot account for these changes, thereby providing support for the attentional hypothesis. In addition, the right-handed subjects exhibited a greater shift of bias than did the left-handed subjects, when directing their attention leftward. This finding suggests that right-handed people are better able to shift their attention than left-handed people.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Cortex  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Foundas AL; Corey DM; Hurley MM; Heilman KM
  • Start Page

  • 79
  • End Page

  • 86
  • Volume

  • 42
  • Issue

  • 1