Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Previous investigations of hemispheric processes of word perception provide a mixed picture of the sensitivity of each hemisphere to the familiarity of the visual form of lateralized displays. We investigated this issue by presenting words, pseudowords, and nonwords briefly to either the left (LH) or right (RH) hemisphere in lowercase, uppercase, and a matched, unfamiliar mixed-case form, and used an eye tracker to ensure central fixation and the Reicher–Wheeler task to suppress influences of stimulus asymmetry. Familiarity of form exerted a substantial effect on perception. In particular, perception of LH and RH displays of words, pseudowords, and nonwords was least accurate for mixed case, intermediate for upper case, and most accurate for lowercase. However, form had no effect on the LH advantage observed for words, pseudowords, and nonwords, indicating that form affected processing in both hemispheres to a similar extent. Moreover, LH and RH displays both showed that mixed case disrupted performance most for words, and more for pseudowords than for nonwords, indicating the sensitivity to form shown by each hemisphere reflected more than a general perceptual process. Implications for the role of form familiarity in hemispheric processing of words are discussed.