An ERP assessment of hemispheric projections in foveal and extrafoveal word recognition

Timothy R Jordan, Giorgio Fuggetta, Kevin B Paterson, Stoyan Kurtev, Mengyun Xu

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    BACKGROUND: The existence and function of unilateral hemispheric projections within foveal vision may substantially affect foveal word recognition. The purpose of this research was to reveal these projections and determine their functionality.

    METHODOLOGY: Single words (and pseudowords) were presented to the left or right of fixation, entirely within either foveal or extrafoveal vision. To maximize the likelihood of unilateral projections for foveal displays, stimuli in foveal vision were presented away from the midline. The processing of stimuli in each location was assessed by combining behavioural measures (reaction times, accuracy) with on-line monitoring of hemispheric activity using event-related potentials recorded over each hemisphere, and carefully-controlled presentation procedures using an eye-tracker linked to a fixation-contingent display.

    PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Event-related potentials 100-150 ms and 150-200 ms after stimulus onset indicated that stimuli in extrafoveal and foveal locations were projected unilaterally to the hemisphere contralateral to the presentation hemifield with no concurrent projection to the ipsilateral hemisphere. These effects were similar for words and pseudowords, suggesting this early division occurred before word recognition. Indeed, event-related potentials revealed differences between words and pseudowords 300-350 ms after stimulus onset, for foveal and extrafoveal locations, indicating that word recognition had now occurred. However, these later event-related potentials also revealed that the hemispheric division observed previously was no longer present for foveal locations but remained for extrafoveal locations. These findings closely matched the behavioural finding that foveal locations produced similar performance each side of fixation but extrafoveal locations produced left-right asymmetries.

    CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that an initial division in unilateral hemispheric projections occurs in foveal vision away from the midline but is not apparent, or functional, when foveal word recognition actually occurs. In contrast, the division in unilateral hemispheric projections that occurs in extrafoveal locations is still apparent, and is functional, when extrafoveal word recognition takes place.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere23957
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Number of pages10
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Adolescent
    • Adult
    • Behavior
    • Brain Mapping
    • Electroencephalography
    • Evoked Potentials
    • Fixation, Ocular
    • Fovea Centralis
    • Functional Laterality
    • Humans
    • Pattern Recognition, Visual
    • Reaction Time
    • Reading
    • Reproducibility of Results
    • Research Design
    • Time Factors
    • Vision, Ocular
    • Visual Fields
    • Journal Article


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