Language in the Disconnected Right Hemisphere

  • Eran Zaidel
Part of the Readings from the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience book series (REN)


In over 98% of right-handed adults, the left hemisphere (LH) is specialized for processing speech and representing linguistic grammar. Many aphasiologists, starting with Paul Broca in 1864, believed that the right hemisphere (RH) can take over some language functions in aphasia following LH damage. As early as 1875 Hughlings Jackson believed that the RH was specialized for visuospatial functions and could also process nonpropositional, emotional, and automatized language. However, the established view was that the LH of right-handed people is exclusively specialized for language. The pioneering diagram makers, starting with Carl Wernicke, emphasized the role of “disconnection syndromes” in the etiology of language disorders, and in 1892 Jules Dejerine attributed the syndrome of alexia without agraphia to a visual deficit in the LH, conjoined with a splenial interhemispheric disconnection. In this view, the RH was word blind.

Further reading

  1. Sidtis JJ, Volpe BT, Wilson DH, Rayport M, Gazzaniga MS (1981): Variability in right hemisphere language function after callosal section: Evidence for a continuum of generative capacity. J Neurosci 1:323–331.Google Scholar
  2. Sperry RW, Gazzaniga MS (1967): Language following surgical section of the hemispheres. In: Brain Mechanisms Underlying Speech and Language, Darley FL, ed. New York: Grune and StrattonGoogle Scholar
  3. Zaidel E (1978): Lexical organization in the right hemisphere. In: Cerebral Correlates of Conscious Experience, Buser PA, Rougeul-Buser A, eds. Amsterdam: ElsevierGoogle Scholar
  4. Zaidel E (1983): Disconnection syndrome as a model for laterally effects in the normal brain. In: Cerebral Hemisphere Asymmetry: Method, Theory and Applications, Heilige J, ed. New York: PraegerGoogle Scholar
  5. Zaidel E (1985): Language in the right hemisphere. In: The Dual Brain; Hemispheric Specialization in Humans, Benson DF and Zaidel E, eds. New York: GuilfordGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

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  • Eran Zaidel

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