Bihemispheric Language: How the Two Hemispheres Collaborate in the Processing of Language

Norman D. Cook

in The Speciation of Modern Homo Sapiens

Published by British Academy

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780197263112
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734885 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Bihemispheric Language: How the Two Hemispheres Collaborate in the Processing of Language

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  • Prehistoric Archaeology


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Speech production in most people is strongly lateralized to the left hemisphere (LH), but language understanding is generally a bilateral activity. At every level of linguistic processing that has been investigated experimentally, the right hemisphere (RH) has been found to make characteristic contributions, from the processing of the affective aspects of intonation, through the appreciation of word connotations, the decoding of the meaning of metaphors and figures of speech, to the understanding of the overall coherency of verbal humour, paragraphs and short stories. If both hemispheres are indeed engaged in linguistic decoding and both processes are required to achieve a normal level of understanding, a central question concerns how the separate language functions on the left and right are integrated. This chapter reviews relevant studies on the hemispheric contributions to language processing and the role of interhemispheric communications in cognition.

Keywords: left hemisphere; speech production; language understanding; linguistic decoding; interhemispheric communications

Chapter.  10867 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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