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The right hemisphere's role in action word processing: A double case study
Neininger, B. & PULVERMULLER, F.
Neurocase, 7, 303-317
Year of publication:
Recent neuropsychological models postulate that language is not restricted to two regional centers in the left hemisphere. Additional cortical areas are involved and these are most important for category-specific semantic processes. A still open question is whether the hemisphere not dominant for language - usually the right - is necessary for specific linguistic processes such as lexical access to a defined word category. Right-handed patients with lesions in the frontal lobe of their right non-dominant hemisphere causing paresis of the left extremities underwent a lexical decision test to investigate category-specific deficits in language processing. Lexical access to action verbs was substantially impaired compared to matched words of other categories. This performance pattern significantly differed from that found in a matched healthy control group. The patients' selective processing deficit demonstrates that frontal areas in the non-dominant hemisphere, including cortices that contribute to the programming of body movements, are necessary for unimpaired access to action verbs. Our results are consistent with neurobiological models postulating that the cortical topographies of neuronal networks processing words reflect semantic word properties.