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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

July 1998, Vol. 10, No. 4, Pages 472-484
(doi: 10.1162/089892998562889)
© 1998 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Spatial Processing and Hemispheric Asymmetry: Contributions of the Transient/Magnocellular Visual System
Article PDF (171.7 KB)

Right-handed observers were presented with stimuli consisting of a line and two horizontally separated dots. A categorical spatial task required observers to indicate whether the dots were above or below the line, and a coordinate spatial task required observers to indicate whether the line could fit into the space between the two dots. For the coordinate task, reaction time was faster when the stimuli were presented to the left visual field (right hemisphere) than when the stimuli were presented to the right visual field (left hemisphere). The opposite hemispheric asymmetry was obtained for the categorical task. In addition, coordinate spatial processing took longer with stimuli presented on a red background than with stimuli presented on a green background. The opposite trend characterized categorical spatial processing. Because the color red attenuates processing in the transient/magnocellular visual pathway, these results suggest that coordinate spatial processing is more dependent on the transient/magnocellular pathway than is categorical spatial processing. However, manipulations of color condition had no effect on visual field (hemispheric) asymmetries, suggesting that the two hemispheres rely on the same visual information and on the same computational mechanisms as each other—although they do not always use that information with equal efficiency.