Concurrent finger-tapping in mathematically gifted males: evidence for enhanced right hemisphere involvement during linguistic processing.

O'Boyle MW, Gill HS, Benbow CP, Alexander JE
Cortex. 1994 30 (3): 519-26

PMID: 7805392 · DOI:10.1016/s0010-9452(13)80347-4

O'Boyle and Benbow (1990) have suggested that enhanced involvement of the right hemisphere (RH) during basic information processing is a neuropsychologic 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 rates 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.

MeSH Terms (18)

Adolescent Attention Child Child, Gifted Dominance, Cerebral Functional Laterality Humans Male Mathematics Mental Recall Motor Activity Neuropsychological Tests Pattern Recognition, Visual Psychomotor Performance Reaction Time Reading Reference Values Verbal Behavior

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