Display Settings:

Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jan 10;103(2):489-94. Epub 2005 Dec 30.

Whorf hypothesis is supported in the right visual field but not the left.

Author information

  • 1Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. mayfly@berkeley.edu

Abstract

The question of whether language affects perception has been debated largely on the basis of cross-language data, without considering the functional organization of the brain. The nature of this neural organization predicts that, if language affects perception, it should do so more in the right visual field than in the left visual field, an idea unexamined in the debate. Here, we find support for this proposal in lateralized color discrimination tasks. Reaction times to targets in the right visual field were faster when the target and distractor colors had different names; in contrast, reaction times to targets in the left visual field were not affected by the names of the target and distractor colors. Moreover, this pattern was disrupted when participants performed a secondary task that engaged verbal working memory but not a task making comparable demands on spatial working memory. It appears that people view the right (but not the left) half of their visual world through the lens of their native language, providing an unexpected resolution to the language-and-thought debate.

PMID:
16387848
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1326182
Free PMC Article

Images from this publication.See all images (3)Free text

Fig. 1.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 3.
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk