Cerebral asymmetry for mental rotation

Effects of response hand, handedness and gender

Blake W. Johnson*, Kirsten J. McKenzie, Jeff P. Hamm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

54 Citations (Scopus)


We assessed lateralization of brain function during mental rotation, measuring the scalp distribution of a 400-600 ms latency event-related potential (ERP) with 128 recording electrodes. Twenty-four subjects, consisting of equal numbers of dextral and sinistral males and females, performed a mental rotation task under two response conditions (dominant vs non-dominant hand). For males, ERPs showed a right parietal bias regardless of response hand. For females, the parietal ERPs were slightly left-lateralized when making dominant hand responses, but strongly right-lateralized when making non-dominant hand responses. These results support the notion that visuo-spatial processing is more bilaterally organized in females. However, left hemisphere resources may be allocated to response preparation when using the non-dominant hand, forcing visuo-spatial processing to the right hemisphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1929-1932
Number of pages4
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain mapping
  • Event-related potential
  • Hemispheric dominance
  • Laterality
  • Mental rotation
  • Sex differences

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