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Neuropsychologia. 2013 Nov;51(13):2611-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.09.005. Epub 2013 Sep 9.

Symmetry detection in typically and atypically speech lateralized individuals: a visual half-field study.

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Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University, H. Dunantlaan 2, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium. Electronic address:


Visuospatial functions are typically lateralized to the right cerebral hemisphere, giving rise to a left visual field advantage in visual half-field tasks. In a first study we investigated whether this is also true for symmetry detection off fixation. Twenty right-handed participants with left hemisphere speech dominance took part in a visual half-field experiment requiring them to judge the symmetry of 2-dimensional figures made by joining rectangles in symmetrical or asymmetrical ways. As expected, a significant left visual field advantage was observed for the symmetrical figures. In a second study, we replicated the study with 37 left-handed participants and left hemisphere speech dominance. We again found a left visual field advantage. Finally, in a third study, we included 17 participants with known right hemisphere dominance for speech (speech dominance had been identified with fMRI in an earlier study; Van der Haegen, Cai, Seurinck, & Brysbaert, 2011). Around half of these individuals showed a reversed pattern, i.e. a right visual half-field advantage for symmetric figures while the other half replicated the left visual-field advantage. These findings suggest that symmetry detection is indeed a cognitive function lateralized to the right hemisphere for the majority of the population. The data of the participants with atypical speech dominance are more in line with the idea that language and visuospatial functions are lateralized in opposite brain hemispheres than with the idea that different functions lateralize independently, although there seems to be more variability in this group.


Atypical lateralization; Laterality; Perception; Symmetry detection

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