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Brain Lang. 1985 Nov;26(2):332-48.

The perception of stress and lateralization of prosody.


Three separate dichotic listening tasks were run to determine ear superiority for stress identification. When subjects were asked to identify stress placement in real word minimal stress pairs (hótdog vs. hot dóg), they demonstrated a right ear superiority. When these tokens were filtered so that phonetic and semantic information was eliminated and only the stress pattern remained, a different group of subjects showed a left ear advantage. Finally, with nonsense word counterparts to word stress pairs (bótgog vs. bot góg) preserving phonetic information but lacking semantic content, no ear asymmetry was found. These results suggest that as the linguistic significance of the stimuli is reduced, thereby lessening the linguistic function of stress, there is a less dominant involvement of the left hemisphere in stress processing. Results are discussed in relation to a theory of a functional integration of prosodic and segmental speech components that is paralleled by a working partnership of left and right hemisphere.

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