Laterality effects in visual information processing

Hemispheric specialisation or the orienting of attention?

Steven Schwartz, Kim Kirsner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)


The notion that visual laterality patterns may be attributable to attentional allocation rather than hemispheric specialisation was examined in three experiments. In Experiment I, high verbal ability subjects were found to be less lateralised on a letter name match task than low verbals. In Experiment II, stimulus probability was shown to affect laterality patterns for name but not for physical matches. Again, low verbals were affected more than highs. Experiment III produced results identical to those of Experiment II although, in the latter experiment, visual fields were defined vertically rather than horizontally from the midline. Together, these results support the following generalisations: (1) visual asymmetries have their locus in a post-perceptual information processing stage; (2) visual asymmetries may be altered by manipulating stimulus probability; (3) verbal ability differences in laterality may not reflect neuroanatomical differences but merely cognitive capacity and (4) it may be unnecessary to invoke differential hemispheric specialisation in order to account for visual lateral asymmetries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-77
Number of pages17
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section A
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 1982
Externally publishedYes

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