Hemispheric division of labour in reading

Richard C. Shillcock*, Scott A. McDonald

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


We argue that the reading of words and text is fundamentally conditioned by the splitting of the fovea and the hemispheric division of the brain, and, furthermore, that the equitable division of labour between the hemispheres is a characteristic of normal visual word recognition. We report analyses of a representative corpus of the eye fixations of normal readers in the realistic reading of text where we compare hemispheric processing, quantified in terms of uncertainty about the orthographic, phonological and semantic representations of the words of the text. The analyses show that normal reading is accurately understood in terms of an equitable division of labour in the construction of the orthographic identity of the word and that, for English, a semantic division patterns closely with the orthographic division. We infer that impaired inter-hemispheric co-ordination of orthographic information may be best compensated for by a reliance on the inter-hemispheric co-ordination of semantic information, as in phonological dyslexia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-257
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Research in Reading
Issue number3
Early online date4 Aug 2005
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Hemispheric division of labour in reading'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this