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We Say "a Cup" Implying "a Saucer"
before March 9, 2006


Human identity can be seen everywhere, and in his speech also. Not only cultural level influences language fertility and associations appearing when various words are heard. Scientists from Saint Petersburg Sechenov RAS Institute of Evolutional Physiology and Biochemistry in collaboration with Perm State University have discovered that nature of associations depends on cerebral hemisphere leading in speech regulation: left, right or both (so-called bilateral speech presentation).

Institute fellows (with higher education diplomas) have taken part in the experiment. They have received lists containing 14 nouns: six of them were emotions – positive and negative – (laughter, spit) and eight were neutral (a table, a stamp). The testees should have said the first word that came to mind when they read each word on the list (first association). Then the researchers have added to the original list the same amount of words similar in meaning and sounding. After the testees were asked to choose the original 14 words out of 28.

All testees have remembered and recognized positive emotions better regardless of their speech centre location. But those with bilateral presentation, when speech is regulated by both hemispheres, have remembered and recognized much more words than other testees. However, word associations depend on what hemisphere leads in speech regulation. People with right speech centre have prevailing associations with real relations between objects, their functional relations (a stamp – a letter, a table – a dish, an album – a photo, a method – a research). Those with bilateral presentation have more complex associations without direct links between words (guilt – victory, death – scythe, castle – fairy-tale). And those with left speech centre often do not link words according to a subject, but compile grammatically structured phrases, which occur in conversational speech.

It seems interesting to compare these data with results of other research. It’s known that little children and underclassmen have associations that are synonyms or antonyms (hot-cold, etc). At this age hemisphere asymmetry is still unstable. After school’s third year most children have left hemisphere regulation – as a result of reading and grammar exercises. If they have natural left regulation, they will easily study language. The majority of people have left speech centres regardless of being left- or right-handed.

Tags: Russian Scientists     

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