An optimal dichotic-listening paradigm for the assessment of hemispheric dominance for speech processing

Dichotic-listening paradigms are widely accepted as non-invasive tests of hemispheric dominance for language processing and represent a standard diagnostic tool for the assessment of developmental auditory and language disorders.


Despite its popularity in research and clinical settings, dichotic paradigms show comparatively low reliability, significantly threatening the validity of conclusions drawn from the results. Thus, the aim of the present work was to design and evaluate a novel, highly reliable dichotic-listening paradigm for the assessment of hemispheric differences. Based on an extensive literature review, the paradigm was optimized to account for the main experimental variables which are known to systematically bias task performance or affect random error variance. The main design principle was to minimize the relevance of higher cognitive functions on task performance in order to obtain stimulus-driven laterality estimates. To this end, the key design features of the paradigm were the use of stop-consonant vowel (CV) syllables as stimulus material, a single stimulus pair per trial presentation mode, and a free recall (single) response instruction. Evaluating a verbal and manual response-format version of the paradigm in a sample of N = 50 healthy participants, we yielded test-retest intra-class correlations of rICC = .91 and .93 for the two response format versions. These excellent reliability estimates suggest that the optimal paradigm may offer an effective and efficient alternative to currently used paradigms both in research and diagnostic.

PLOS ONE, 2020,15 (6), 

Published Aug. 3, 2020 6:00 AM