Right Hemisphere Language Comprehension: Perspectives from Cognitive Neuroscience

Right Hemisphere Language Comprehension: Perspectives from Cognitive Neuroscience

Right Hemisphere Language Comprehension: Perspectives from Cognitive Neuroscience

Right Hemisphere Language Comprehension: Perspectives from Cognitive Neuroscience

Synopsis

This volume investigates in depth the role of the right hemisphere in language processing at all levels. It will be of interest to researchers and students in language and neuropsychology as well as clinical neuropsychologists.

Excerpt

Christine Chiarello University of California, Riverside

Mark Beeman Rush Medical College

The right hemisphere (RH) processes language.

This statement, although not exactly revolutionary, still provokes vigorous debate, often eliciting the argument that anything the RH does with language is not linguistic, but "paralinguistic." The resistance to the notion of RH language processing persists despite the fact that even the earliest observers of left hemisphere (LH) language specialization (John Hughlings Jackson and Paul Broca; see Harrington, 1987) posited some role for the RH in language processing, and evidence attesting to various RH language processes has steadily accrued for over 30 years (e.g., Eisenson, 1962; cf. Archibald & Wepman, 1968; Oldfield, 1966). In this volume, we have assembled chapters pertaining to a wide but by no means exhaustive set of language comprehension processes for which RH contributions have been demonstrated. The sections are organized around these processes, beginning with initial decoding of written or spoken input, proceeding through semantic processing of single words and sentences, up to comprehension of more complex discourse, as well as problem solving. We hope that the chapters assembled here begin to melt this resistance to evidence of RH language processing, but it is perhaps worth considering its source.

Neuropsychology, neurobiology, and other fields that have converged to create cognitive neuroscience were shaped from their inception by a critical debate: Are higher cognitive functions performed by localized brain re-

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