How our experiment works

Due to the anatomical organization of the visual system, information presented in the left visual field is relayed to the right hemisphere of the brain and information presented in the right visual field is relayed to the left hemisphere of the brain. Information presented to the center of the visual field (the fovea) is relayed to both hemispheres. Therefore, if an image is presented briefly to the left or right of the fovea, it is possible to initially present the stimulus to only one hemisphere.

In our experiment, participants first focus their eyes on a fixation cue in the middle of the computer screen for 500 milliseconds. A photograph is then flashed on the screen either to the right or to the left of the fixation cue for 126 milliseconds. A mask consisting of scrambled parts of animals and objects follows the presentation of the photograph.

 

According to our theory, the right hemisphere of the brain is better than the left hemisphere at recognizing many types of plants and animals. Therefore, we predict that people will be better at recognizing a photograph of a plant or an animal if the photograph is presented to the left of the fixation point and hence to the right hemisphere of the brain. We do not expect to find this trend of hemispheric effects with the other objects in our experiment. Well will post the results of the experiment here when it is completed--so check back!

Click here to see an example of what it is like to be a participant in our experiment!