by Laura Motyka Joss and Sandra Virtue
In a classic semantic priming study (Beeman et al., 1994), participants showed a naming advantage for strongly related targets compared to weakly related targets in the left hemisphere, whereas no difference in naming advantage was found between strongly and weakly related targets in the right hemisphere. However, it is unclear how the type of task and individual differences influence this hemispheric activation. In the current study participants completed a lexical decision task when presented with strongly, weakly, and unrelated words in each visual field-hemisphere. A left hemisphere advantage was evident for strongly and weakly related words compared to unrelated words and a right hemisphere advantage was evident for strongly related words compared to weakly related and unrelated words. Additionally, high working memory capacity participants responded more accurately to strongly related words than weakly or unrelated words in the right hemisphere, whereas low working memory capacity participants showed no difference between these conditions in the right hemisphere. Thus, the type of semantic priming task and working memory capacity seem to influence the hemispheric processing of strongly and weakly related information.
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