The effects of left- versus right-hemisphere lesions on the sensitivity to intra- and interconceptual semantic relationships

Neuropsychologia. 2001;39(5):443-51. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(00)00141-x.


Studies on split-brain, normal and brain-damaged subjects suggest differences in the processing of semantic relationships by the two hemispheres. Various authors have conceived of this distinction in terms of the paradigmatic/syntagmatic dissociation, and the connotative and denotative meanings of words, and as reflecting different types of links between words. Drews has suggested that a left-hemisphere lesion would affect the processing of intraconceptual relationships, while a right-hemisphere lesion would impair the processing of interconceptual relationships. The goal of this study was to test this hypothesis, using a number of intra- and interconceptual semantic relationships. Pairs of common words were submitted to left-hemisphere brain-damaged and right-hemisphere brain-damaged subjects. The task required subjects to indicate whether or not there was any relationship between the words. The results only partially support the hypothesis. The right/left opposition applied to only one of three types of intraconceptual relationships (whole-part relation) and to one of two types of interconceptual relationship (same location relation). This partially unexpected result is discussed in reference to other studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Corpus Callosum
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes*
  • Middle Aged
  • Semantics*
  • Speech Perception