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This article is part of the Research Topic Lateralization and cognitive systems

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 07 February 2013 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00042

“Right on all occasions?” – On the feasibility of laterality research using a smartphone dichotic listening application

Josef J. Bless1*, René Westerhausen1,2, Joanne Arciuli3, Kristiina Kompus1, Magne Gudmundsen1 and Kenneth Hugdahl1,2,4
  • 1Department of Biological and Medical Psychology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  • 2Division of Psychiatry, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway
  • 3Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  • 4Department of Radiology, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway

Most psychological experimentation takes place in laboratories aiming to maximize experimental control; however, this creates artificial environments that are not representative of real-life situations. Since cognitive processes usually take place in noisy environments, they should also be tested in these contexts. The recent advent of smartphone technology provides an ideal medium for such testing. In order to examine the feasibility of mobile devices (MD) in psychological research in general, and laterality research in particular, we developed a MD version of the widely used speech laterality test, the consonant-vowel dichotic listening (DL) paradigm, for use with iPhones/iPods. First, we evaluated the retest reliability and concurrent validity of the DL paradigm in its MD version in two samples tested in controlled, laboratory settings (Experiment 1). Second, we explored its ecological validity by collecting data from the general population by means of a free release of the MD version (iDichotic) to the iTunes App Store (Experiment 2). The results of Experiment 1 indicated high reliability (rICC = 0.78) and validity (rICC = 0.76–0.82) of the MD version, which consistently showed the expected right ear advantage (REA). When tested in real-life settings (Experiment 2), participants (N = 167) also showed a significant REA. Importantly, the size of the REA was not dependent on whether the participants chose to listen to the syllables in their native language or not. Together, these results establish the current MD version as a valid and reliable method for administering the DL paradigm both in experimentally controlled as well as uncontrolled settings. Furthermore, the present findings support the feasibility of using smartphones in conducting large-scale field experiments.

Keywords: laterality, dichotic listening, language lateralization, smartphone, mobile device, software application

Citation: Bless JJ, Westerhausen R, Arciuli J, Kompus K, Gudmundsen M and Hugdahl K (2013) “Right on all occasions?” – On the feasibility of laterality research using a smartphone dichotic listening application. Front. Psychology 4:42. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00042

Received: 29 October 2012; Accepted: 19 January 2013;
Published online: 07 February 2013.

Edited by:

Christian Beste, Ruhr Universität Bochum, Germany

Reviewed by:

Sven-Erik Fernaeus, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
Kelly M. Goedert, Seton Hall University, USA

Copyright: © 2013 Bless, Westerhausen, Arciuli, Kompus, Gudmundsen and Hugdahl. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Josef J. Bless, Department of Biological and Medical Psychology, University of Bergen, Jonas Lies vei 91, 5009 Bergen, Norway. e-mail: josef.bless@psybp.uib.no