Concreteness: Nouns, Verbs, and Hemispheres

Zohar Eviatar, Lise Menn, Eran Zaidel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The preferential processing of concrete versus abstract nouns, and of active versus static or “quiet” verbs, was investigated using a lateralized lexical decision task in 32 normal and 4 commissurotomized subjects. Both groups of subjects showed the concreteness effect for nouns in both visual fields. The disconnected right hemisphere of two commissurotomized subjects responded with above chance performance only to concrete nouns. Neither group showed an activeness effect for verbs in either visual field. This supports an imageability rather than a multisensory representation interpretation of the concreteness effect. A comparison of responses to words and to nonwords revealed that males had a “no” bias to stimuli in the left visual field, and both males and females showed a slight “yes” bias for stimuli in the right visual field. These data suggest that the lexical decision task is complex and that word and noword decisions constitute partly independent functional components. We interpret the sex differences as an indication of strategic rather than functional differences in lateralization patterns between males and females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-624
Number of pages14
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements. Preparation of this article was supported in part by Post-doctoral Fellowship USPHS NS7303 to Lise Menn, and by NIMH RSDA MH00179-08 and NIH grant NS20187 to Bran Zaidel.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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