The effect of word length on hemispheric word recognition

Evidence from unilateral and bilateral-redundant presentations

Annukka K. Lindell*, Michael E R Nicholls, Anne E. Castles

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


Visual half field studies have repeatedly demonstrated the left hemisphere's superiority for language processing. Previous studies examined the effect of word length on bilateral and unilateral performance by comparing foveal and parafoveal presentations. The present study removed the potential confound of acuity by using parafoveal presentations for both unilateral and bilateral trials. Twenty participants named 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-letter words. The results supported previous findings, with right hemisphere performance being particularly degraded with increases in word length. There was no difference between left hemisphere and bihemispheric performance in terms of speed or accuracy, suggesting that bihemispheric performance is reliant upon the strategy of the hemisphere superior for language processing. Overall, the pattern of results supports the notion that the left hemisphere's superior linguistic capacity results from a more parallel processing strategy, while the right hemisphere is reliant upon a more sequential mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-452
Number of pages6
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

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