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Laterality. 1996 Jul;1(2):97-137.

Temporal processing asymmetries between the cerebral hemispheres: evidence and implications.

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Department of Psychology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia.


This paper reviews a large body of research which has investigated the capacities of the cerebral hemispheres to process temporal information. This research includes clinical, non-clinical, and electrophysiological experimentation. On the whole, the research supports the notion of a left hemisphere advantage for temporal resolution. The existence of such an asymmetry demonstrates that cerebral lateralisation is not limited to the higher-order functions such as language. The capacity for the resolution of fine temporal events appears to play an important role in other left hemisphere functions which require a rapid sequential processor. The functions that are facilitated by such a processor include verbal, textual, and fine movement skills. The co-development of these functions with an efficient temporal processor can be accounted for with reference to a number of evolutionary scenarios. Physiological evidence favours a temporal processing mechanism located within the left temporal cortex. The function of this mechanism may be described in terms of intermittency or travelling moment models of temporal processing. The travelling moment model provides the most plausible account of the asymmetry.

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