What's 'right' in language comprehension: Event-related potentials reveal right hemisphere language capabilities

Kara D. Federmeier, Edward W. Wlotko, Aaron M. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the term 'nonverbal' is often applied to the right cerebral hemisphere (RH), a growing body of work indicates that the RH can comprehend language and, indeed, that it makes critical contributions to normal language functions. Reviewed here are studies that have examined RH language capabilities by combining visual half-field presentation methods with event-related potential (ERP) measures. Because they afford temporal and functional specificity and can be obtained as participants simply process language for meaning, ERPs provide especially valuable insights into RH language functions. Such studies suggest that the RH appreciates word- and message-level meaning information, and that it may play a particularly important role in the processing of relatively unpredictable semantic relationships. In addition, this work suggests that patterns observed for everyday language processing may often be an emergent property of multiple, distinct mechanisms operating in parallel as the left and right hemispheres jointly comprehend language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalLinguistics and Language Compass
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language


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