Switching between global and local levels: The level repetition effect and its hemispheric asymmetry

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Abstract

The global level of hierarchical stimuli (Navon's stimuli) is typically processed quicker and better than the local level; further differential hemispheric dominance is described for local (left hemisphere, LH) and global (right hemisphere, RH) processing. However, neuroimaging and behavioral data indicate that stimulus category (letter or object) could modulate the hemispheric asymmetry for the local level processing. Besides, when the targets are unpredictably displayed at the global or local level, the participant has to switch between levels, and the magnitude of the switch cost increases with the number of repeated-level trials preceding the switch. The hemispheric asymmetries associated with level switching is an unresolved issue. LH areas may be involved in carrying over the target level information in case of level repetition. These areas may also largely participate in the processing of level-changed trials. Here we hypothesized that RH areas underly the inhibitory mechanism performed on the irrelevant level, as one of the components of the level switching process. In an experiment using a within-subject design, hierarchical stimuli were briefly presented either to the right or to the left visual field. 32 adults were instructed to identify the target at the global or local level. We assessed a possible RH dominance for the non-target level inhibition by varying the attentional demands through the manipulation of level repetitions (two or gour repeated-level trials before the switch). The behavioral data confirmed a LH specialization only for the local level processing of letter-based stimuli, and detrimental effect of increased level repetitions before a switch. Further, data provides evidence for a RH advantage in inhibiting the non-target level. Taken together, the data supports the notion of the existence of multiple mechanisms underlying level-switch effects. © 2014 Kéïta, Bedoin, Burack and Lepore.

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Kéïta, L., Bedoin, N., Burack, J. A., & Lepore, F. (2014). Switching between global and local levels: The level repetition effect and its hemispheric asymmetry. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(MAR). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00252

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