Reading direction shifts visuospatial attention: An Interactive Account of attentional biases

Luca Rinaldi, Samuel Di Luca, Avishai Henik, Luisa Girelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


A growing amount of evidence confirms the influence of reading and writing habits on visuospatial processing, although this phenomenon has been so far testified mainly as a lateralized shift of a single behavioral sign (e.g., line bisection), with lack of proof from pure right-to-left readers. The present study contributed to this issue by analyzing multiple attentional and motor indexes in monolingual Italian (i.e., reading from left-to-right), and monolingual (i.e., reading from right-to-left) and bilingual Israeli (i.e., reading from right-to-left in Hebrew but also from left-to-right in English) participants' visuospatial performance. Subjects were administered a computerized standard star cancellation task and a modified version in which English letters and words were replaced by Hebrew ones. Tasks were presented on a graphics tablet, allowing recording of both chronometric and spatial parameters (i.e., measured in (x, y) vector coordinates). Results showed that reading direction modulated the on-line visuomotor performance (i.e., left-to-right vs. right-to-left shifts) from the beginning (i.e., first mark) to the end of the task (i.e., spatial distribution of omissions and subjective epicenter). Additionally, the spatial bias observed in a computerized line bisection task was also related to the participants' habitual reading direction. Overall, the results favor the proposal of an Interactive Account of visuospatial asymmetries, according to which both cultural factors, such as the directional scanning associated with language processing, and biological factors, such as hemispheric specialization, modulate visuospatial processing. Results are discussed in light of recent behavioral and neuroanatomical findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-105
Number of pages8
JournalActa Psychologica
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Cancellation task
  • Hemispheric specialization
  • Line bisection task
  • Reading habits
  • Visuospatial attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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