Replication of a premenstrual decrease in right-ear advantage on language-related dichotic listening tests of cerebral laterality.
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Five fused dichotic word tasks measured perceptual asymmetry in 30 women at 4 weekly intervals. The five tasks varied according to whether the stimuli presented were word-word pairs or nonsense word-pairs, or whether they consisted of neutral words paired with positive emotion-evoking words (e.g. hug-tug), neutral words paired with negative emotion-evoking words (e.g. till-kill), or neutral words paired with neutral words (e.g. bean-dean). Overall right-ear advantage (REA) decreased in the premenstrual week relative to the postmenstrual week, replicating previous results using identical measures. In addition, REA scores were similar at menstrual, postmenstrual and midcycle weeks. Additional data from 12 men suggests sex differences in task performance were small or non-existent. In both women and men, there were no effects of repeated testing on REA, but emotional proclivity indices, defined as the tendency to recall words of positive or negative affective tone, increased across the four test sessions. As found previously, there was a trend for women to hear fewer positive words during the premenstrual week. These data are consistent with other research suggesting that a progesterone-mediated decrease in functional asymmetry occurs in the luteal phase. Future research manipulating task demands (e.g. memory load) or the affective valence of the stimuli may be useful in understanding the observed changes in hemispheric advantage.