Ambiguity resolution in lateralized Arabic

Manar Hayadre, Dennis Kurzon, Orna Peleg, Eviatar Zohar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined ambiguity resolution in reading in Arabic. Arabic is an abjad orthography and is morphologically similar to Hebrew. However, Arabic literacy occurs in a diglossic context, and its orthography is more visually complex than Hebrew. We therefore tested to see whether hemispheric differences will be similar or different from previous findings in Hebrew. We also tested whether phonological recoding is a mandatory stage in reading Arabic. We used a divided visual field paradigm, where 32 participants performed semantic decisions on pairs of words in which the first word (presented centrally) was either a homophone (bank), heterophone (tear), or unambiguous. The second word was presented in the left, right, or central visual field. The results revealed larger effects of ambiguity for heterophones than for homophones in all conditions, and thus support the contention that phonological recoding is mandatory in reading Arabic. Hemispheric patterns were different from those found with Hebrew, and were similar in the peripheral visual fields, which can be interpreted as indicating a single processor, with the pattern indicating that this processor is the LH. The alternative hypothesis is that interhemispheric integration occurs in all conditions. The implications of these results for reading in Arabic are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-418
Number of pages24
JournalReading and Writing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Ambiguity resolution
  • Arabic
  • Laterality
  • Reading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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