Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Recordings of neuronal activity in humans have identified few correlates of the known hemispheric asymmetries of functional lateralization. Here, we examine single-unit activity recorded from both hemispheres during two delayed match-to-sample tasks that show strong hemispheric lateralization based on lesion effects; a line-matching (LM) task related to the right hemisphere, and a rhyming (RHY) task related to the left. Nineteen neuronal populations were recorded with extracellular microelectrodes from the left temporal neocortex of 11 awake patients, and 18 from the right in 9 patients during anterior temporal lobectomy for complex partial seizures under local anesthesia. All subjects were left hemisphere dominant for language. Twelve (32%) populations exhibited statistically significant changes in activity at p < .05. Although changes in firing frequency were recorded from both hemispheres during both tasks, the RHY task elicited changes in activity several hundred milliseconds earlier on the left side than on the right. The LM task, on the other hand, induced changes earlier on the right side than on the left. Both hemispheres contained units active during verbal responses regardless of which behavior elicited the response. Our results indicate that cerebral dominance is reflected in earlier neuronal activity in the anterior temporal lobe during tasks lateralized to that hemisphere.