A large body of evidence supports the existence of a robust handedness difference in episodic memory retrieval, with inconsistent-handedness being associated with superior memory across a wide variety of paradigms, including superior retrieval of lab-based and real world memories. Despite superior episidoc memory in inconsistent-handers, and despite neuroanatomical and neurophysiological differences in cortical regions between inconsistent- and consistent-handers, we are aware of no studies to date that have examined physiological activity in the brains of inconsistent- versus consistent-handers while engaged in memory tasks. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to present a first look at this issue, using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) as a simple, non-invasive measure of frontal lobe activity during encoding and recall of list words in inconsistent- and consistent-handers. Behaviourally, we replicated prior studies, finding a significant inconsistent-handed advantage in free recall. Using fNIRS-derived oxygenated haemoglobin (O2Hb) as a measure of frontal lobe activity, we found the first evidence for handedness differences in brain activity that are associated with the handedness differences in episodic retrieval. Specifically, the primary finding was that increased O2Hb in the right hemisphere during recall was associated with better retrieval, but for consistent-handers only.
- episodic memory