The propositional structure of discourse in the two cerebral hemispheres

Debra L. Long, Kathleen Baynes, Chantel S. Prat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Readers construct at least two interrelated representations when they comprehend a text: (a) a representation of the explicit ideas in a text and the relations among them (i.e., a propositional representation) and (b) a representation of the context or situation to which a text refers (i.e., a discourse model). In a recent study, Long and Baynes (2002) found evidence that readers' representations were structured according to propositional relations, but only in the left hemisphere. Both hemispheres, however, appeared to represent contextually relevant semantic information. The goal in the current study was to examine further the organization of explicit text concepts in the two hemispheres. We used an item-priming-in-recognition paradigm in combination with a lateralized visual-field manipulation. We found evidence for a propositionally structured representation in the left hemisphere, that is, priming effects that reflected the linear distance between primes and targets in the propositional structure of passages. We also found that the right hemisphere represented explicit text concepts, but we found no evidence that these concepts were organized structurally. In a second experiment, we found our item priming effects reflected the representation of text information in memory and did not reflect lexical-semantic priming at test.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-394
Number of pages12
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Discourse processing
  • Language representation
  • Laterality
  • Left hemisphere
  • Neurolinguistics
  • Right hemisphere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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