The nature of hemispheric specialization for prosody perception
Recent evidence suggests a relative right-hemispheric specialization for emotional prosody perception, whereas linguistic prosody perception is under bilateral control. It is still unknown, however, how the hemispheric specialization for prosody perception might arise. Two main hypotheses have been put forward. Cue-dependent hypotheses, on the one hand, propose that hemispheric specialization is driven by specialization for the non-prosody-specific processing of acoustic cues. The functional lateralization hypothesis, on the other hand, proposes that hemispheric specialization is dependent on the communicative function of prosody, with emotional and linguistic prosody processing being lateralized to the right and left hemispheres, respectively. In the present study, the functional lateralization hypothesis of prosody perception was systematically tested by instructing one group of participants to evaluate the emotional prosody, and another group the linguistic prosody dimension of bidimensional prosodic stimuli in a dichotic-listening paradigm, while event-related potentials were recorded. The results showed that the right-ear advantage was associated with decreased latencies for an early negativity in the contralateral hemisphere. No evidence was found for functional lateralization. These findings suggest that functional lateralization effects for prosody perception are small and support the structural model of dichotic listening.
KeywordsProsody Emotional Linguistic Lateralization Dichotic listening ERP
We thank Jos Pacilly for doing programming work for this study.
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