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Differences in semantic category priming in the left and right cerebral hemispheres under automatic and controlled processing conditions

Differences in semantic category priming in the left and right cerebral hemispheres under automatic and controlled processing conditions

Neuropsychologia 37(9): 1071-1085

The contribution of each cerebral hemisphere to the generation of semantic category meanings at automatic and strategic levels of processing was investigated in a priming experiment where prime and target words were independently projected to the left or right visual fields (LVF or RVF). Non-associated category exemplars were employed as related pairs in a lexical decision task and presented in two experimental conditions. The first condition was designed to elicit automatic processing, so related pairs comprised 20% of the positive set, stimulus pairs were temporally separated by a stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) of 250 ms, and there was no allusion to the presence of related pairs in the instructions to subjects. The second condition, designed to invoke controlled processing, incorporated a relatedness proportion of 50%, stimulus pairs separated by an SOA of 750 ms, and instructions which informed subjects of the presence and use of category exemplar pairs in the stimulus set. In thefirst condition, a prime directed to either visual field facilitated responses to categorically related targets subsequently projected to the RVF, while in the second condition a prime directed to either visual field facilitated responses to related targets projected to the LVF. The facilitation effects obtained in both conditions appeared to reflect automatic processes, while strategic processes were invoked in the left, but not the right hemisphere in the second condition. The results suggest that both hemispheres have automatic access to semantic category meanings, although the timecourse of activation of semantic category meanings is slower in the right hemisphere than in the left.

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Accession: 010461915

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PMID: 10468370

DOI: 10.1016/s0028-3932(98)00156-0

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