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Brain Lang. 2008 May;105(2):91-8. Epub 2007 Jul 12.

Support for lateralization of the Whorf effect beyond the realm of color discrimination.

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Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Recent work has shown that Whorf effects of language on color discrimination are stronger in the right visual field than in the left. Here we show that this phenomenon is not limited to color: The perception of animal figures (cats and dogs) was more strongly affected by linguistic categories for stimuli presented to the right visual field than those presented to the left. Moreover, the magnitude of the visual field asymmetry was reduced when demands on verbal working memory were increased by a secondary task. This reduction did not occur when the secondary task imposed demands on spatial working memory. Taken together, these results demonstrate that the lateralized Whorf effect may be quite general, reflecting an interaction of linguistic and perceptual codes primarily in the left hemisphere.

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