Laterality across languages: Results from a global dichotic listening study using a smartphone application

Research Area: Research Year: 2015
Type of Publication: Article Keywords: Language lateralization, Dichotic listening, Laterality, Smartphone application, Field experiment
Authors: Bless, Josef J.; Westerhausen, Rene; von Koss Torkildsen, Janne; Gudmundsen, Magne; Kompus, Kristiina; Hugdahl, Kenneth
Left-hemispheric language dominance has been suggested by observations in patients with brain damages as early as the 19th century, and has since been confirmed by modern behavioural and brain imaging techniques. Nevertheless, most of these studies have been conducted in small samples with predominantly Anglo-American background, thus limiting generalization and possible differences between cultural and linguistic backgrounds may be obscured. To overcome this limitation, we conducted a global dichotic listening experiment using a smartphone application for remote data collection. The results from over 4,000 participants with more than 60 different language backgrounds showed that left-hemispheric language dominance is indeed a general phenomenon. However, the degree of lateralization appears to be modulated by linguistic background. These results suggest that more emphasis should be placed on cultural/linguistic specificities of psychological phenomena and on the need to collect more diverse samples.
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