Taxonomic and ad hoc categorization within the two cerebral hemispheres

Yeshayahu Shen, Bat El Aharoni, Nira Mashal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A typicality effect refers to categorization which is performed more quickly or more accurately for typical than for atypical members of a given category. Previous studies reported a typicality effect for category members presented in the left visual field/right hemisphere (RH), suggesting that the RH applies a similarity-based categorization strategy. However, findings regarding the typicality effect within the left hemisphere (LH) are less conclusive. The current study tested the pattern of typicality effects within each hemisphere for both taxonomic and ad hoc categories, using words presented to the left or right visual fields. Experiment 1 tested typical and atypical members of taxonomic categories as well as non-members, and Experiment 2 tested typical and atypical members of ad hoc categories as well as non-members. The results revealed a typicality effect in both hemispheres and in both types of categories. Furthermore, the RH categorized atypical stimuli more accurately than did the LH. Our findings suggest that both hemispheres rely on a similarity-based categorization strategy, but the coarse semantic coding of the RH seems to facilitate the categorization of atypical members.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-529
Number of pages13
Issue number5
StatePublished - 3 Sep 2015


  • Ad hoc category
  • Categorization
  • Divided visual field
  • Taxonomic


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