Neural level influencing functional descriptions

F. Frank LeFever flefever at
Thu Sep 17 23:36:48 EST 1998

Thanks for the interesting comments, examples, etc.

re right hemisphere and prosody: there is a fair amount of agreement on
a role of the right hemisphere in "emotional" prosody,  but of the left
hemisphere in "syntactic" or "linguistic" prosody--examples of the
latter being giving proper emphasis to contrast alternatives, etc. (as
in "the child ate the bread but DRANK the milk"), differentiating
statements from questions, etc.

However, Van Lancker and (perhaps, not sure of co-author) Ross have
found both left and right hemisphere lesions impair comprehension of
emotional prosody, but for different reasons--i.e. differing in the
kinds of cues they are sensitive to .

F. Frank LeFever, Ph.D.
New York Neuropsychology Group

In <36008502.52EA846F at> John Hasenkam
<johnhkm at> writes: 
>F. Frank LeFever wrote:
>> The bilingual aphasia studies: examples of alternating aphasias, in
>> which deficits were worse in one language, then better in that
>> but worse in the other (rather thn better recovery in one or
>> rates of recovery)--Michel Paradis (Montreal, I believe) helped
>> a collection of balanced two-language pairs of tests to enable
>> comparisons between languages in assessing bilingual aphasics and
>> reported such cases.
>> I'll also add the personal observation that bilingual friends
>> from a visit in their native country  (and/or in phone calls during
>> visit) seemed to show a transient deterioration in their English
>> ability.
> Inhibition: interesting story by Roger Penrose, mathematical
>similiar to tale by French mathematician Hadamard: When thinking about
>mathematics, if asked a question, they can conceive the answer but
>incapable of finding the words for it. Penrose speculates that it is
>if his language capacities had been turned off while doing his
>mathematics. The gap is only a few seconds, but Penrose identifies
>as something quite unusual in his thinking, not like 'being lost for
>words', but being momentarily asphasic.
>> In other words, I suggest that these nearby but different language
>> circuits might be mutually inhibitory, making rapid sucession
>> alternation difficult.  (How simultaneous translaters manage it, I
>> don't know!)
>Terrance Deacon, in, The Symbolic Species, has come up with an
>interesting idea regarding simultaneous translaters. Apparently they
>prefer a specific listening ear (right or left) and this suggests some
>lateralisation of functions, probably so as to avoid neural confusion
>Deacon puts forward an argument that the right hemisphere is involved
>the prosodic and timing elements of language, the left largely devoted
>to motor and grammatical production. He believes language functions
>mapped onto pre-existing neural structures and moves away (not
>from the idea of specific language centers in the brain. Interesting
>text which the author of this thread may find interesting. 
>There is evidence for some degree of language processing in the right,
>(Gardner 1973 on metaphors and laughter, semantic paralexis?). Given
>dominating influence of language on our thinking I would be surprised
>all the required processing occurred in only one hemisphere, but a
>definite bias exists. I have enough trouble with English.
>John Hasenkam
>johnhkm at

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