Blog Archives

Evidence for right hemisphere phonology in a backward masking task

The extent to which orthographic and phonological processes are available during the initial moments of word recognition within each hemisphere is under specified, particularly for the right hemisphere. Few studies have investigated whether each hemisphere uses orthography and phonology under constraints that restrict the viewing time of words and reduce overt phonological demands. The current study used backward masking in the divided visual field paradigm to explore hemisphere differences in the availability of orthographic and phonological word recognition processes. A 20 ms and 60 ms SOA were used to track the time course of how these processes develop during pre-lexical moments of word recognition. Nonword masks varied in similarity to the target words such that there were four types: orthographically and phonologically similar, orthographically but not phonologically similar, phonologically but not orthographically similar and unrelated. The results showed the left hemisphere has access to both orthography and phonology early in the word recognition process. With more time to process the stimulus, the left hemisphere is able to use phonology which benefits word recognition to a larger extent than orthography. The right hemisphere also demonstrates access to both orthography and phonology in the initial moments of word recognition, however, orthographic similarity improves word recognition to a greater extent than phonological similarity.

from Brain and Language

Disruption of spelling-to-sound correspondence mapping during single-word reading in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy

Processing and/or hemispheric differences in the neural bases of word recognition were examined in patients with long-standing, medically-intractable epilepsy localized to the left (N = 18) or right (N = 7) temporal lobe. Participants were asked to read words that varied in the frequency of their spelling-to-sound correspondences. For the right temporal lobe group, reaction times (RTs) showed the same pattern across spelling-to-sound correspondence conditions as previously reported for normal participants. For the left temporal lobe group, however, the pattern of RTs suggested a greater relative influence of orthographic frequency than rime frequency, such that performance was worse on words whose orthographic body was less frequent in the language. We discuss these results in terms of differences in processing between the two cerebral hemispheres: the results for the right-temporal lobe patients are taken to support connectionist models of reading as described for the dominant (left) hemisphere, while results for the left-temporal lobe patients support a view of the right hemisphere as relatively less sensitive to phonology and relatively more sensitive to orthography.

from Brain and Language

Examining lateralized lexical ambiguity processing using dichotic and cross-modal tasks

The individual roles played by the cerebral hemispheres during the process of language comprehension have been extensively studied in tasks that require individuals to read text (for review see Jung-Beeman, 2005). However, it is not clear whether or not some aspects of the theorized laterality models of semantic comprehension are a result of the modality of presentation. Extending earlier work examining lateralized semantic processing using lexically ambiguous words, the current experiments utilized two modified lexical-decision tasks (one fully auditory and one cross-modal) with dichotically presented target stimuli. When targets were presented to the right ear/left hemisphere there was a distinct advantage for detecting words that are associated with the dominant meaning of the ambiguous word over the subordinate meaning. In contrast, for left ear/right hemisphere trials, there was either no difference between the pattern of semantic access for dominant and subordinate meaning (dichotic only) or a processing advantage for the subordinate meaning of the ambiguous word (with cross-modal presentation). These data suggest that the complimentary hemispheric strategies that allow for semantic access are not modality specific and instead characterize how the hemispheres each contribute to comprehension for both speech and text. Thus, dichotic presentation does seem to allow for the study of subtle hemispheric difference in meaning comprehension.

from Neuropsychologia

Neglect dyslexia: a review of the neuropsychological literature

Neglect dyslexia (ND) is reviewed, based on published single-patient and group studies. ND is frequently associated with right hemispheric damage and unilateral spatial neglect (USN), and typically involves the left side of the letter string. Left-brain-damaged patients showing ND, ipsilateral (left) or contralateral (right) to the side of the left-sided hemispheric lesion, have also been reported, as well as a few patients with bilateral damage, with more frequently left than right ND. As USN, ND is temporarily ameliorated by lateralized stimulations (vestibular caloric, visual prism adaptation). ND may occur independent of USN, suggesting the damage to specific visuospatial representational/attentional systems, supporting reading. ND errors comprise omission, substitution, and, less frequently, addition of letters on one side of the stimulus, resulting in words or nonwords, also with reference to the stimulus’ linguistic features. Patients with ND may show preserved lexical–morphological effects and implicit processing, up to the semantic level, of the misread string. This preserved processing is a feature of ND, shared with the USN syndrome. The mechanisms modulating error type and lexical–morphological effects are partly independent of each other. Different levels of representation of the letter string may be affected, giving rise to egocentric, stimulus-centred, and word-centred patterns of impairment. The anatomical correlates of ND include the temporo-parieto-occipital regions.

from Experimental Brain Research

Hemispheric asymmetries depend on the phonetic feature: A dichotic study of place of articulation and voicing in French stops

Dichotic listening experiments show a right-ear advantage (REA), reflecting a left-hemisphere (LH) dominance. However, we found a decrease in REA when the initial stop consonants of two simultaneous French CVC words differed in voicing rather than place of articulation (Experiment 1). This result suggests that the right hemisphere (RH) is more involved in voicing than in place processing. The voiceless–voiced contrast is realised as short positive vs. long negative VOT in French stop consonants, but as long vs. short positive VOT in English. We tested whether the relative involvement of the LH and RH is governed by their respective putative specialisation for short and long events. As expected, in French, the REA decreased when a voiced stop was presented to the left ear and a voiceless stop to the right ear (+V −V), whereas the REA had been shown to decrease for (−V +V) pairs in English. Additionally, voiced stops were more frequently reported among blend responses when a voiced consonant was presented to the left ear. In Experiment 2, VCV pairs were used to reduce the stimulus dominance effect for voiced consonants, which probably contributed to the low REA for (+V –V) pairs in Experiment 1. The reduction of the REA due to a voicing difference was maintained, which provides evidence for the relative independence of the mechanisms responsible for stimulus dominance and perceptual asymmetries in dichotic listening. The results are discussed in the light of the Asymmetric Sampling in Time (AST) model.

from Brain and Language

Implicit reading in Chinese pure alexia

A number of recent studies have shown that some patients with pure alexia display evidence of implicit access to lexical and semantic information about words that they cannot read explicitly. This phenomenon has not been investigated systematically in Chinese patients. We report here a case study of a Chinese patient who met the criteria for pure alexia and had lesions in the left occipitotemporal region and the splenium of the corpus callosum. His explicit and implicit reading was evaluated with various stimuli in a number of tasks. We found that despite his severe impairment in overt reading and the definition of any characters, his performance was well above chance in various implicit tasks. His accuracy with respect to lexical decisions was so high that his performance was almost normal. These findings provide unequivocal evidence for the existence of implicit reading in Chinese patients with pure alexia and further support the involvement of the right hemisphere.

from Brain and Language

The left visual-field advantage in rapid visual presentation is amplified rather than reduced by posterior-parietal rTMS

In the present task, series of visual stimuli are rapidly presented left and right, containing two target stimuli, T1 and T2. In previous studies, T2 was better identified in the left than in the right visual field. This advantage of the left visual field might reflect dominance exerted by the right over the left hemisphere. If so, then repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to the right parietal cortex might release the left hemisphere from right-hemispheric control, thereby improving T2 identification in the right visual field. Alternatively or additionally, the asymmetry in T2 identification might reflect capacity limitations of the left hemisphere, which might be aggravated by rTMS to the left parietal cortex. Therefore, rTMS pulses were applied during each trial, beginning simultaneously with T1 presentation. rTMS was directed either to P4 or to P3 (right or left parietal cortex) either as effective or as sham stimulation. In two experiments, either one of these two factors, hemisphere and effectiveness of rTMS, was varied within or between participants. Again, T2 was much better identified in the left than in the right visual field. This advantage of the left visual field was indeed modified by rTMS, being further increased by rTMS to the left hemisphere rather than being reduced by rTMS to the right. It may be concluded that superiority of the right hemisphere in this task implies that this hemisphere is less irritable by external interference than the left hemisphere.

from Experimental Brain Research

Theory of Mind in adults with right hemisphere damage: What’s the story?

Why do people with right hemisphere damage (RHD) have difficulty with pragmatics and communication? One hypothesis has been that pragmatic impairment in RHD is the result of an underlying impairment in Theory of Mind (ToM): the ability to infer the mental states of others. In previous studies evaluating ToM abilities in people with RHD, researchers have used judgment tasks based on story or still cartoon stimuli. However, ToM is likely to draw on kinetic information as well, and these tasks ignore this aspect. The aim of this study was to assess ToM abilities in people with RHD using participants’ evaluations of animated films with moving geometric shapes. Participants were presented with eight films of animated triangles. Four of the films represented the triangles as intentional agents with mental states, while the other four represented the triangles as simply inanimate, though moving, objects. Films were evaluated by both button-press response and by oral descriptions. Analysis of the transcriptions revealed that participants with RHD had a reduced ability to discriminate between the film categories, and a bias toward reduced mental-state ascription in the ToM condition.

from Brain and Language

Theory of mind deficits in patients with acquired brain injury: A quantitative review

Impaired theory of mind (ToM) reasoning is considered an underlying cause of social cognition deficits in patients with acquired brain injury (ABI). However, the literature does not agree on the severity of ToM impairment in this clinical population, nor does it coincide on the proper tools for its assessment. In this paper, we use a meta-analytic approach to review 26 studies which compare the performance of ABI patients and healthy controls in four widely-used ToM tasks: first-order belief task, second order belief task, understanding indirect speech (IS) and social faux pas. Overall, patients show moderate to severe ToM impairment. The latter appears in faux pas (effect size = 0.70) and understanding IS tasks (ES = 0.87), while moderate impairment can be seen in second-order (ES = 0.60) and first-order belief tasks (ES = 0.52). The severity of ToM impairment was influenced by ratio of patients with frontal lobe lesion, ratio of patients with right hemisphere injury, type of belief task, and heterogeneity of the sample’s etiology. Our results provide important quantitative evidence on the severity of ToM deficits in the ABI population, while identifying variables that influence these deficits. Implications for basic and clinical neuropsychology are discussed.

from Neuropsychologia

Interhemispheric asymmetry in EEG photic driving coherence in childhood autism

Spectral and coherence characteristics of the EEG photic driving show different aspects of latent abnormal interhemispheric asymmetry in autistics: the right hemisphere “hyporeactivity” and potential “hyperconectivity” of likely compensatory nature in the left hemisphere.

from Clinical Neurophysiology

Language and its interacting components: The right hemisphere hypothesis in derivational morphology

Traditionally, it has been assumed that language is part of a distributed neural system largely lateralized to the left cerebral hemisphere. However, more recent studies have challenged the traditional hypothesis supporting a more interactive view of language processing. Instead of considering the language faculty as modular and independent from other cognitive functions, it is hypothesized that language makes use of other cognitive domains. This issue has also been specifically addressed in derivational morphology processing, a language task traditionally considered purely linguistic. Very recently, in a group of Italian non-aphasic right brain-damaged (RBD) subjects, a selective deficit in deriving nouns from verbs (e.g. osservare [to observe] → osservazione [observation]) was reported. It was attributed to damage to response selection and inhibition mechanisms required by the derivational task. The aim of the present study was to investigate this issue further. Twelve RBD subjects, six of whom were selectively impaired in deriving nouns from verbs, and six healthy controls were asked to perform a response selection task that required the activation of facilitatory and inhibitory components. Results showed that subjects with a derivational morphological deficit exhibited slower reaction times than the subjects in the other RBD group only when they had to inhibit the expected response to select the correct answer. Moreover, lesion analysis revealed the involvement of the right subcortical structures. The relationship between derivational morphology and response selection mechanisms in the right hemisphere is discussed within the view of inter-hemispheric cooperation between different cognitive domains in language tasks.

from Brain Research

The neural architecture of discourse compression

Re-telling a story is thought to produce a progressive refinement in the mental representation of the discourse. A neuroanatomical substrate for this compression effect, however, has yet to be identified. We used a discourse re-listening task and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify brain regions responsive to repeated discourse in twenty healthy volunteers. We found a striking difference in the pattern of activation associated with the first and subsequent presentations of the same story relative to rest. The first presentation was associated with a highly significant increase in blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal in a bilateral perisylvian distribution, including auditory cortex. Listening to the same story on subsequent occasions revealed a wider network with activation extending into frontal, parietal, and subcortical structures. When the first and final presentations of the same story were directly compared, significant increments in activation were found in the middle frontal gyrus bilaterally, and the right inferior parietal lobule, suggesting that the spread of activation with re-listening reflected an active neural process over and above that required for comprehension of the text. Within the right inferior parietal region the change in BOLD signal was highly correlated with a behavioural index of discourse compression based in re-telling, providing converging evidence for the role of the right inferior parietal region in the representation of discourse. Our findings demonstrate, for the first time, the existence of a neural network underlying discourse compression, showing that parts of this network are common to re-telling and re-listening effects.

from Neuropsychologia

Cortical mapping of naming errors in aphasia

Persons with aphasia vary greatly with regard to clinical profile; yet, they all share one common feature – anomia – an impairment in naming common objects. Previous research has demonstrated that particular naming errors are associated with specific left hemisphere lesions. However, we know very little about the cortical activity in the preserved brain areas that is associated with aphasic speech errors. Utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we show for the first time that specific speech errors are associated with common cortical activity in different types and severities of aphasia. Specifically, productions of phonemic errors recruited the left posterior perilesional occipital and temporal lobe areas. A similar pattern of activity was associated with semantic errors, albeit in the right hemisphere. This study does not discount variability in cortical activity following left hemisphere stroke; rather, it highlights commonalities in brain modulation in a population of patients with a common diagnosis but vastly different clinical profiles. Hum Brain Mapp 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

from Human Brain Mapping

Swallowing after right hemisphere stroke: oral versus pharyngeal deficits

Although previous studies have attempted to identify distinct patterns of dysphagia following unilateral hemispheric stroke, the relationships between lesion sites and swallowing dysfunction remain unclear. In particular, swallowing deficits resulting from right hemisphere stroke remain poorly understood. The present study employed a case report design to examine the oral and pharyngeal phase deficits in swallowing following right hemisphere stroke. Lateral-view videofl uoroscopic images were obtained from six subjects following right hemisphere stroke as they performed swallowing trials with various bolus consistencies (i.e., thin liquid, thick liquid, and paste). Each swallow was evaluated on 17 oral phase, and 17 pharyngeal phase physiologic swallowing parameters. Results indicated that, whereas all patients exhibited both oral and pharyngeal phase swallowing defi cits, the majority of patients showed relatively greater oral phase than pharyngeal phase impairment. In addition, patterns of swallowing defi cits were highly variable across individuals, particularly for the pharyngeal phase. These fi ndings suggest that oral phase swallowing impairment can be a prominent feature of right hemisphere stroke. Thus, swallowing assessment in patients with right hemisphere stroke should emphasize both oral and pharyngeal phases. Instrumental techniques can provide valuable insights into swallow pathophysiology in this population.

from the Canadian Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

Interhemispheric compensation: A hypothesis of TMS-induced effects on language-related areas

from European Psychiatry

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) applied over brain regions responsible for language processing is used to curtail potentially auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia patients and to investigate the functional organisation of language-related areas. Variability of effects is, however, marked across studies and between subjects. Furthermore, the mechanisms of action of rTMS are poorly understood. Here, we reviewed different factors related to the structural and functional organisation of the brain that might influence rTMS-induced effects. Then, by analogy with aphasia studies, and the plastic-adaptive changes in both the left and right hemispheres following aphasia recovery, a hypothesis is proposed about rTMS mechanisms over language-related areas (e.g. Wernicke, Broca). We proposed that the local interference induced by rTMS in language-related areas might be analogous to aphasic stroke and might lead to a functional reorganisation in areas connected to the virtual lesion for language recovery.