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J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2009 Nov;15(6):1023-7. doi: 10.1017/S1355617709990440. Epub 2009 Aug 27.

Individual differences in semantic switching flexibility: effects of handedness.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH 43606-3390, USA.


The semantic fluency task is a widely used assessment tool for evaluating memory-related cognitive deficits in neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. The present study investigates individual differences in performance on this task in a normal population. The aim is to explore handedness differences in switching and clustering tendencies when performing this task. Consistent with our prediction, when asked to produce as many animal names as possible in 1 min, mixed handers demonstrated greater switching between different subcategories of animals than strong handers. These findings are interpreted in terms of the more diffuse spread of activation among conceptual representations in the right hemisphere, and greater access to right hemisphere processes in mixed handers. The findings have implications for the research communities using the semantic fluency task, irrespective of whether or not they are looking at handedness differences per se.

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