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Neuropsychology. 2008 May;22(3):390-9. doi: 10.1037/0894-4105.22.3.390.

On the perception of sarcasm in dichotic listening.

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Department of Psychology, University of New Brunswick, Canada.


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the processing of sincere and sarcastic statements by the cerebral hemispheres. Forty right-handed students were asked to localize sincere and sarcastic statements presented dichotically. Participants either indicated the ear that perceived the sarcastic statement or the ear that perceived the sincere statement in counterbalanced blocks of trials. As expected, results revealed a left ear advantage for sarcastic statements and a right ear advantage for sincere statements. In addition, participants showed faster response time when localizing targets (both sarcastic and sincere) to the left ear compared to the right. Finally, a significant negative correlation between laterality effects in the two tasks provided support for causal hemispheric complementarity. Results are discussed with reference to the contribution of the right and left hemispheres to language processing. Their implications for models of sarcasm perception are also discussed.

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