Handedness, cerebral lateralization, and the evolution of language

I. C. McManus

in The Descent of Mind

Published in print March 2000 | ISBN: 9780192632593
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191670497 | DOI:
Handedness, cerebral lateralization, and the evolution of language

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Paul Broca observed that in a series of patients with aphasia, a condition which causes a loss of language, there was a concomitant paralysis of the right side of the body. At first it was often assumed that these individuals were left-handed — in effect restoring some form of conceptual symmetry to an otherwise asymmetric brain. The precise nature of hemispheric specialisation is still far from clear, and is complicated by a number of observations. A complete and adequate theory of cerebral lateralisation must not only explain how and why language is typically located in the left hemisphere and visuo-spatial processing of complex images is typically located in the right hemisphere. The chapter adds that the so-called HERA model, hemispheric encoding/retrieval asymmetry, poses many problems for neuropsychology and, given the importance of semantic memory in language usage, those questions are likely also to be important for understanding the evolution of language. In addition, the chapter discusses the nature of handedness.

Keywords: Paul Broca; conceptual symmetry; hemispheric specialisation; cerebral lateralisation; HERA model; hemispheric encoding; semantic memory; evolution; language; handedness

Chapter.  13204 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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