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Rightward bisection errors for letter lines: the role of semantic information
When bisecting words in their middle, people reveal leftward bisection errors. This tendency might emerge from an attentional bias towards the beginning of the word. However, when longer meaningless letter strings are presented, people reveal a rightward bisection bias. To test the role of semantic information on leftward or rightward bisection biases, we tested letter line bisection performance in healthy right-handed students in four independent experiments. A third of the letter lines contained an embedded four-letter word to the left of true centre, another third contained an embedded four-letter word to the right of true centre, while the remaining lines contained no words. Half of these words were emotional words, the other half were neutral words. Results across experiments revealed a stronger rightward bisection bias: (i) for letter lines containing emotional as compared to neutral words, (ii) for letter lines containing words in the left as compared to right half of the lines, and (iii) for those experiments in which the spatial position of letter lines remained within a narrow body-centred space. Findings from this study suggest that letter line bisection performance might be only minimally determined by visuo-spatial attention. Rather, letter line perception might activate the left hemisphere more than the right hemisphere, shifting the subjective midpoint to the right of true centre. Leftward bisection biases for words only, as had been described in the literature, may thus have resulted from automated reading strategies rather than from attentional biases towards the left hemispace.
Adolescent Adult Data Interpretation, Statistical Emotions/physiology Female Functional Laterality/*physiology Humans Kinetics Male Psychomotor Performance/physiology *Reading *Semantics
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