Semantic asymmetries are modulated by phonological asymmetries: Evidence from the disambiguation of homophonic versus heterophonic homographs

Orna Peleg, Zohar Eviatar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The present study investigated cerebral asymmetries in accessing multiple meanings of two types of homographs: homophonic homographs (e.g., bank) and heterophonic homographs (e.g., tear). Participants read homographs preceded by either a biasing or a non-biasing sentential context and performed a lexical decision on lateralized targets presented 150 ms after onset of the sentence-final ambiguous prime. Targets were either related to the dominant or the subordinate meaning of the preceding homograph or were unrelated to it. In the case of homophonic homographs - our results converge with previous findings: both activation and selection processes are faster in the LH than in the RH. Importantly, however, in the case of heterophonic homographs - opposite asymmetries were found. These results suggest that semantic asymmetries are modulated by phonology. They are discussed in the context of a model of functional architecture of reading in the two hemispheres in which orthography, phonology and semantics are fully interconnected in the LH, whereas in the RH, orthography and phonology are not directly connected, such that phonological processes are mediated by semantics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-162
Number of pages9
JournalBrain and Cognition
Volume70
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Grant 956/06 from the Israel Science Foundation.

Keywords

  • Cerebral asymmetries
  • Lexical decision
  • Phonological ambiguity
  • Priming
  • Reading
  • Semantic ambiguity
  • Visual field

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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