The effects of attention on ear advantages in dichotic listening to words and affects

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This study examined the effects of attention on ear advantages using dichotic listening to words and affects, a focused-attention paradigm. We compared the mixed condition, in which attention is switched between the ears in each trial, to the blocked condition, in which attention is directed to one ear for an entire block of trials. Results showed a decreased right ear advantage for word processing only in the mixed condition and an increased left ear advantage for emotion processing in both attention conditions for hits index. The mixed condition showed smaller laterality effects than the blocked condition for words with respect to hits index, while increasing right ear predominance for intrusions. The greater percentage of intrusions in the right ear for the word task and in the mixed condition suggests that the right ear (left hemisphere) is most vulnerable to attention switching. We posit that the attention manipulation has a greater effect on word processing than on emotion processing and propose that ear advantages reflect a combination of the effects of attentional and structural constraints on lateralisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)932-940
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Cognitive Psychology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Correspondence should be addressed to Rotem Leshem, Department of Criminology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan 52100, Israel. Email: This work was supported by an EU Marie-Curie International Fellowship [PIOF-GA-2009-236183] to Rotem Leshem. This study was conducted while the author was a post doc fellow in Eran Zaidel’s Cognitive Neuroscience lab, in the Psychology Department at UCLA. I wish to thank him deeply for his mentorship and support, especially in the conceptualisation of this study.


  • Attention
  • Emotion
  • Hemispheric specialisation
  • Language
  • Top-down/bottom-up processing


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