Lower- and higher-level models of right hemisphere language. A selective survey

Guido Gainotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The models advanced to explain right hemisphere (RH) language function can be divided into two main types. According to the older (lower-level) models, RH language reflects the ontogenesis of conceptual and semantic-lexical development; the more recent models, on the other hand, suggest that the RH plays an important role in the use of higher-level language functions, such as metaphors, to convey complex, abstract concepts. The hypothesis that the RH may be preferentially involved in processing the semantic-lexical components of language was advanced by Zaidel in splitbrain patients and his model was confirmed by neuropsychological investigations, proving that right brain-damaged patients show selective semanticlexical disorders. The possible links between lower and higher levels of RH language are discussed, as is the hypothesis that the RH may have privileged access to the figurative aspects of novel metaphorical expressions, whereas conventionalization of metaphorical meaning could be a bilaterally-mediated process involving abstract semantic-lexical codes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-73
Number of pages7
JournalFunctional Neurology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Metaphorical language
  • Pictorial conceptual knowledge
  • Right hemisphere language
  • Semantic representations
  • Verbal conceptual knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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