The divided visual world paradigm: Eye tracking reveals hemispheric asymmetries in lexical ambiguity resolution

Aaron M. Meyer, Kara D. Federmeier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Eye tracking was combined with the visual half-field procedure to examine hemispheric asymmetries in meaning selection and revision. In two experiments, gaze was monitored as participants searched a four-word array for a target that was semantically related to a lateralized ambiguous or unambiguous prime. Primes were preceded by a related or unrelated centrally-presented context word. In Experiment 1, unambiguous primes were paired with concordant weakly-related context words and strongly-related targets that were similar in associative strength to discordant subordinate-related context words and dominant-related targets in the ambiguous condition. Context words and targets were reversed in Experiment 2. A parallel study involved the measurement of event-related potentials (ERPs; Meyer, A. M., and Federmeier, K. D., 2007. The effects of context, meaning frequency, and associative strength on semantic selection: distinct contributions from each cerebral hemisphere. Brain Res. 1183, 91-108). Similar to the ERP findings, gaze revealed context effects for both visual fields/hemispheres when subordinate-related targets were presented: initial gaze revealed meaning activation when an unrelated context was utilized, whereas later gaze also revealed activation in the discordant context, indicating that meaning revision had occurred. However, eye tracking and ERP measures diverged when dominant-related targets were presented: for both visual fields/hemispheres, initial gaze indicated the presence of meaning activation in the discordant context, and, for the right hemisphere, discordant context information actually facilitated gaze relative to unrelated context information. These findings are discussed with respect to the activeness of the task and hemispheric asymmetries in the flexible use of context information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)166-183
Number of pages18
JournalBrain Research
StatePublished - Jul 30 2008


  • Cerebral hemispheres
  • Context effect
  • Eye tracking
  • Lexical ambiguity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'The divided visual world paradigm: Eye tracking reveals hemispheric asymmetries in lexical ambiguity resolution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this