Concurrent Finger-Tapping in Mathematically Gifted Males: Evidence for Enhanced Right Hemisphere Involvement During Linguistic Processing

M. W. O'Boyle, H. S. Gill, C. P. Benbow, J. E. Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

O'Boyle and Benbow (1990) have suggested that enhanced involvement of the right hemisphere (RH) during basic information processing is a neuropsychological characteristic of the gifted brain. To provide converging evidence for this hypothesis, the present study was conducted using a concurrent finger-tapping paradigm. Specifically, 24 mathematically precocious and 16 average ability adolescent males were required to tap a key as quickly as possible while sitting silently (baseline condition), concurrently reading a paragraph aloud (verbal load), or encoding a random form into memory (spatial load). For average ability subjects, the concurrent verbal load reduced tapping rate for the right but not the left hand, reflecting a division of LH resources between linguistic processing of the paragraph and motor control of the contralateral hand. In contrast, for gifted subjects, both their left- and right-hand tapping reates were significantly reduced, suggesting that both hemispheres were engaged during verbal processing. The concurrent spatial task produced a small but reliable reduction in finger-tapping rate for both the left and right hand in each group. These findings provide additional support for the notion that enhanced reliance on RH functioning is a physiological correlate of mathematical precocity in gifted males.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-526
Number of pages8
JournalCortex
Volume30
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1994

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