The effect of stimulus intensity on the right ear advantage in dichotic listening

Research Area: Research Year: 2008
Type of Publication: Article
Authors: Hugdahl, Kenneth; Westerhausen, Rene; Alho, K; Medvedev, S; Hämäläinen, H
The dichotic listening test is non-invasive behavioural technique to study brain lateralization and it has been shown, that its results can be systematically modulated by varying stimulation properties (bottom-up effects) or attentional instructions (top-down effects) of the testing procedure. The goal of the present study was to further investigate the bottom-up modulation, by examining the effect of differences in the right or left ear stimulus intensity on the ear advantage. For this purpose, interaural intensity difference were gradually varied in steps of 3 dB from -21 dB in favour of the left ear to +21 dB in favour of the right ear, also including a no difference baseline condition. Thirty-three right-handed adult participants with normal hearing acuity were tested. The dichotic listening paradigm was based on consonant-vowel stimuli pairs. Only pairs with the same voicing (voice or non-voiced) of the consonant sound were used. The results showed: (a) a significant right ear advantage (REA) for interaural intensity differences from 21 to -3 dB, (b) no ear advantage (NEA) for the -6 dB difference, and (c) a significant left ear advantage (LEA) for differences form -9 to -21 dB. It is concluded that the right ear advantage in dichotic listening to CV syllables withstands an interaural intensity difference of -9 dB before yielding to a significant left ear advantage. This finding could have implications for theories of auditory laterality and hemispheric asymmetry for phonological processing.
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