Are variations among right-handed individuals in perceptual asymmetries caused by characteristic arousal differences between hemispheres?

Jerre Levy, Wendy Heller, Marie T. Banich, Leslie A. Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Examined the hypothesis that much of the variance among right-handed Ss in perceptual asymmetries on standard behavioral measures of laterality arises from individual differences in characteristic patterns of asymmetric hemispheric arousal using 32 undergraduates. Dextrals with large right-visual-field (RVF) advantages on a tachistoscopic syllable-identification task outperformed those having weak or no visual-field asymmetries. The 2 groups were equal, however, in asymmetries of error patterns that are thought to indicate linguistic or nonlinguistic encoding strategies. For both groups, relations between visual fields in the ability to discriminate the accuracy of performance followed the pattern of syllable identification itself, suggesting that linguistic and metalinguistic processes are based on the same laterally specialized functions. Ss with strong RVF advantages had a pessimistic bias for rating performance, and those with weak or no asymmetries had an optimistic bias, particularly for the left-visual-field (LVF). This is concordant with evidence that the arousal level of the right hemisphere is closely related to affective mood. Consistent with the arousal model, leftward asymmetries on a free-vision face-processing task became larger as RVF advantages on the syllable task diminished and as optimistic biases for the LVF, relative to the RVF, increased. (108 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-359
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 1983
Externally publishedYes



  • characteristic arousal differences between hemispheres, perceptual asymmetry variations, college students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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