Left and right memory revisited: Electrophysiological investigations of hemispheric asymmetries at retrieval

Karen M. Evans, Kara D. Federmeier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hemispheric differences in the use of memory retrieval cues were examined in a continuous recognition design, using visual half-field presentation to bias the processing of test words. A speeded recognition task revealed general accuracy and response time advantages for items whose test presentation was biased to the left hemisphere. A second experiment recorded event-related brain potentials in the same design and replicated these behavioral effects, but found no electrophysiological support for the hypothesis that test words biased to the left hemisphere elicit superior recognition. Instead, successful retrieval was accompanied by memory components of identical strength regardless of test field. That robust visual field effects in response accuracy and speed were not mimicked in memory components that generally do correlate with such behavioral differences suggests that patterns in overt responses may be dominated by the left hemisphere's superior ability to apprehend words. Differences between the data pattern observed in the present study with lateralized retrieval and that in a prior study with lateralized encoding [Evans, K. M., & Federmeier, K. D. (2007). The memory that's right and the memory that's left: Event-related potentials reveal hemispheric asymmetries in the encoding and retention of verbal information. Neuropsychologia 45(8), 1777-1790.] support the notion that hemispheric processing is highly integrated in the intact brain, and highlight the need to treat lateralization at different stages as distinct.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-313
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Hemispheric interaction
  • Laterality
  • Old/new effect
  • P2
  • Verbal retrieval

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Left and right memory revisited: Electrophysiological investigations of hemispheric asymmetries at retrieval'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this