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Opposite cerebral hemispheric superiorities for visual associative processing of emotional facial expressions and objects


STUDIES of patients with unilateral cerebral lesions1 or surgically disconnected hemispheres2 suggest a functional asymmetry in processing visual information by the two hemispheres. The right hemisphere (RH) seems to favour matching of pictures of objects by similarity of shape (apperceptive matching), whereas the left hemisphere (LH) favours matching by similarity of meaning or conceptual category (associative matching). As, on the other hand, considerable recent experimental evidence supports the hypothesis that the RH might have a distinct role in processing emotional information3–8, it would be surprising if the RH lacked the capacity of associative processing which is important in emotional communication. Using tachistoscopic half-field presentation the present study produces evidence for a RH superiority for associative processing in response to adequate stimuli such as emotional facial expressions, whereas the LH is more efficient in detecting similarity of function between objects whose shapes are very different.

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LANDIS, T., ASSAL, G. & PERRET, E. Opposite cerebral hemispheric superiorities for visual associative processing of emotional facial expressions and objects. Nature 278, 739–740 (1979).

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