To successfully understand a text, readers often mentally represent the shape of an object described in a text (e.g., creating a mental image of a sliced tomato when reading about a tomato on a pizza). However, it is currently unclear how the cerebral hemispheres contribute to these mental images during reading. In the current study, participants were presented with sentences consistent with the shape of an object (i.e., the match condition), sentences inconsistent with the shape of an object (i.e., the mismatch condition), or sentences that did not specify the shape of an object (i.e., the neutral condition). Participants read each sentence and then viewed an image of an object that was quickly presented to either the right visual field-left hemisphere (rvf-LH) or the left visual field-right hemisphere (lvf-RH). Results indicate that when the shape of an object was implicitly described in the text (in Experiment 1), response times for images presented to the rvf-LH were longer in the mismatch condition than in the neutral or match conditions. However, no response time differences were evident in the lvf-RH. When the shape of an object was explicitly described in the text (in Experiment 2), response times were longer in the mismatch condition than in the neutral and match conditions in both hemispheres. Thus, hemispheric involvement in mental representation depends on how explicit information is described in a text. Furthermore, these findings suggest that readers inhibit information that does not match an object׳s shape described in a text.
Briner, Stephen W.; Virtue, Sandra M.; and Schutzenhofer, Michael C., "Hemispheric Processing of Mental Representations During Text Comprehension: Evidence for Inhibition of Inconsistent Shape Information" (2014). Psychology Faculty Publications. 64.