Applying advancements in neurolinguistic research to enhance semantic processing via cognitive training

Nili Metuki, Michal Lavidor

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1 Scopus citations


This study explored the effect of a novel theory-based intervention intended to enhance semantic skills. A cognitive training program was developed based on theories and empirical findings which describe the role of the right hemisphere (RH) in semantic processing. The importance of RH linguistic processes to daily communication has been emphasized in recent neurolinguistic research, allowing to create a selective intervention to stimulate and enhance these processes in a way that will affect real-life performance. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the training and its selective effect on semantic performance (as opposed to general verbal and non-verbal skills), we conducted an experiment with an active control group. Fifteen participants used the computerized training program for five weeks and 15 participants trained on a non-semantic control program using the same game-like platform, stimuli and feedback.In a semantic-relatedness judgment task, administrated before and after the training, significant post-training enhancement was observed among the training participants, compared to the control group. This enhancement was predicted by shifts in laterality indices along the training, so that participants with increasing RH bias showed more improvement on the semantic task. Moreover, the training group did not show any significant enhancement in any of the verbal and non-verbal control tasks - implying that the training effect was selective to semantic processing.These findings provide preliminary evidence for transfer of the coarse semantic training. They are discussed from an applied perspective, with the conclusion that applying current knowledge on semantic processes successfully resulted in a non-invasive enhancement of semantic abilities, which may be used to affect semantic processing in daily life; and from a theoretical perspective, describing the contribution of this study to the body of knowledge on RH involvement in semantic processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)662-690
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Neurolinguistics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by an ERC starting grant (Inspire 200512 ), the Israeli Center of Research Excellence (I-CORE) in Cognition (I-CORE Program 51/11) and the Israel Academy of Sciences grant no. 100/10 awarded to ML.


  • Ambiguous words
  • Coarse coding
  • Cognitive training
  • Linguistic enhancement
  • Right hemisphere
  • Semantic processing


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