Asymmetrical perceptual load in lateralised word processing

Gastoón J. Madrid, Nilli Lavie, Michal Lavidor

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4 Scopus citations


We applied the Load Theory of attention (Lavie, 1995, 2005) to the case of distraction during processing of lateralised words presented in either the right or the left visual fields. Previous research (Brand-D'Abrescia Lavie, 2007) showed that lexicality affects selective attention such that the number of letters in a search task only increases perceptual load and reduces irrelevant distractor effects for searches in nonwords but not in words. The present study examined the hypothesis that the effect of lexicality on distractor processing would be stronger for words presented to the left compared to the right hemisphere. The results supported this hypothesis and their implications for attention to words in the two cerebral hemispheres are discussed. We suggest that the efficiency of attentional selection differed because perceptual load in the visual fields taxed processing depending on hemispheric language expertise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1066-1077
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Cognitive Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Correspondence should be addressed to Gastón J. Madrid, Neuroscience and Aphasia Research Unit (NARU), School of Psychological Sciences, Zochonis Building, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK. E-mail: This research was supported by an ERC start-up grant (ML) and a Wellcome Trust project grant (NL).


  • Attention
  • Laterality
  • Perceptual load
  • Word recognition


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