Faces and Words: Flip Sides of the Brain?
thesisposted on 20.04.2009, 00:00 by Lauren Lorenzi
The specialization of the right and left hemispheres of the human brain and their differential processing strengths has long been studied in the field of neuropsychology. One notable division between the hemispheres, which has been the focus of research for many years, is the right hemisphere specialization for face processing and the left hemisphere specialization for word processing. However, given that the hemispheres are densely interconnected, one might also expect to observe some collaborative efforts between the hemispheres but the interhemispheric function has not been studied in much detail. One possible form of hemispheric division is as follows: individuals who have a greater hemispheric asymmetry for one class (faces or words) should show an equivalent asymmetry for the second class and those who show a more graded asymmetry should show it equally for both classes of stimuli. This division of labor may be individualized throughout a population, and we see that the hemispheric organization within individuals reflects the outcome of the face/word representational competition. The study of the balance of hemispheres is critical for understanding visual-perceptual processes both typical individuals as well as atypical neurological patients with deficits in face or word recognition.