A Critical Look at the Findings of Sergent (1982)


It is widely believed that local and global levels of visual stimuli are better processed in the left and right cerebral hemispheres, respectively. One classic explanation for this observation is the spatial frequency hypothesis proposed by Sergent (1982), which states that the left hemisphere is more efficient at processing high spatial frequencies, whereas the right hemisphere is better with low spatial frequencies. Sergent tested this by measuring RTs for laterally presented stimuli (in the left and right visual fields) composed of high and low spatial frequencies and obtained results consistent with the hypothesis. We put Sergent’s findings to the test by replicating her experiment; our first experiment was a direct replication of hers, while the second used the same procedure, but with different stimuli. Our results largely corresponded with those of Sergent, and the crucial interaction between visual field and spatial frequency was obtained in Experiment 1, but was qualitatively different from Sergent’s. Possible explanations are discussed.

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