Hemispheric differences in orthographic and semantic processing as revealed by event-related potentials

Danielle S. Dickson, Kara D. Federmeier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Differences in how the right and left hemispheres (RH, LH) apprehend visual words were examined using event-related potentials (ERPs) in a repetition paradigm with visual half-field (VF) presentation. In both hemispheres (RH/LVF, LH/RVF), initial presentation of items elicited similar and typical effects of orthographic neighborhood size, with larger N400s for orthographically regular items (words and pseudowords) than for irregular items (acronyms and meaningless illegal strings). However, hemispheric differences emerged on repetition effects. When items were repeated in the LH/RVF, orthographically regular items, relative to irregular items, elicited larger repetition effects on both the N250, a component reflecting processing at the level of visual form (orthography), and on the N400, which has been linked to semantic access. In contrast, in the RH/LVF, repetition effects were biased toward irregular items on the N250 and were similar in size across item types for the N400. The results suggest that processing in the LH is more strongly affected by wordform regularity than in the RH, either due to enhanced processing of familiar orthographic patterns or due to the fact that regular forms can be more readily mapped onto phonology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-239
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Cerebral hemispheres
  • ERPs
  • N400
  • Orthographic neighborhood
  • Visual word recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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