Brain lateralization for language, vocabulary development and handedness at 18 months

Delphine Potdevin, Parvaneh Adibpour, Clémentine Garric, Eszter Somogyi, Ghislaine Dehaene-Lambertz, Pia Rämä, Jessica Dubois, Jacqueline Fagard

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Is hemisphere lateralization for speech processing linked to handedness? To answer this question, we compared hemisphere lateralization for speech processing and handedness in 18-month-old infants, the age at which infants start to produce words and reach a stable pattern of handedness. To assess hemisphere lateralization for speech perception, we coupled event-related potential (ERP) recordings with a syllable-discrimination paradigm and measured response differences to a change in phoneme or voice (different speaker) in the left and right clusters of electrodes. To assess handedness, we gave a 15-item grasping test to infants. We also evaluated infants’ range of vocabulary to assess whether it was associated with direction and degree of handedness and language brain asymmetries. Brain signals in response to a change in phoneme and voice were left- and right-lateralized, respectively, indicating functional brain lateralization for speech processing in infants. Handedness and brain asymmetry for speech processing were not related. In addition, there were no interactions between the range of vocabulary and asymmetry in brain responses, even for a phoneme change. Together, a high degree of right-handedness and greater vocabulary range were associated with an increase in ERP amplitudes in voice condition, irrespective of hemisphere side, suggesting that they influence discrimination during voice processing.
Original languageEnglish
Article number989
Number of pages18
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2023


  • handedness
  • speech perception
  • ERP
  • vocabulary
  • infant

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