The corpus callosum in dichotic listening studies on hemispheric asymmetry: A review of clinical and experimental evidence

Research Area: Research Year: 2008
Type of Publication: Article
Authors: Westerhausen, Rene; Hugdahl, Kenneth
The dichotic listening paradigm using verbal stimulus material typically yields a right ear advantage (REA) which indicates the left-hemisphere dominance for speech processing. Although this interpretation is widely accepted, the cerebral hemispheres also interact through the corpus callosum. Moreover, the two most influential theoretical models of dichotic listening, the structural and the attentional model, both refer to the functional integrity of the corpus callosum, when explaining the REA. However, the current review of the available data reveals several aspects that can not be explained by the dichotic listening models. For example, an individual's ability to direct attention to either ear is mediated by callosal fibers. Consequently, the corpus callosum not only has to be considered as a channel for the automatic exchange of information between the cerebral hemispheres, it rather allows for a dynamic and flexible interaction in supporting both bottom-up and top-down stimulus processing. The review has also revealed how inter-individual variability in callosal fiber structure affects both bottom-up and top-down performance on the dichotic listening task.
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