Language experience and right hemisphere tasks: The effects of scanning habits and multilingualism

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This study explores the effects of multilingualism and reading scanning habits on right hemisphere (RH) abilities. Native Hebrew speakers and Arabic- Hebrew bilinguals performed three tasks. Experiment 1 employed an odd/even decision paradigm on lateralized displays of bar graphs. Both groups of subjects displayed the expected LVFA within the range previously reported for readers of English. Experiment 2 consisted of a chair identification task designed to tap asymmetry of hemispheric arousal and a chimeric face task designed to tap RH specialization for facial emotion. Neither scanning habits nor language experience affected performance on the chair task. Scanning habits seem to have affected performance on the chimeric faces task: there was no preference for the left smile in these right-to-left readers, as opposed to previous results in the literature using left-to-right readers. Correlations between measures from the three tasks and all the subject's scores on an English proficiency test and on a Hebrew test for the bilinguals reveal tentative relationships between proficiency in a second language and RH abilities. The results do not support the hypothesis that multilingualism can affect the manner in which these nonlanguage tasks are subserved by the RH. They do support the hypothesis that scanning habits particular to specific languages can affect performance asymmetries on some nonlanguage tasks that have been posited to reflect RH specialization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-173
Number of pages17
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jun 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thanks to Mouna Maroun and Majdi Falach for testing the subjects. The research reported here was supported by Grant 11/93 from the National Institute of Psychobiology in Israel and by a Wolf Foundation Fellowship. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Zohar Eviatar, Psychology Department, Haifa University, Haifa, Israel 31905. E-mail: 157

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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