Michael Noonan, PhD

Professor of Animal Behavior



Direction and Reliability of Head Tilt in Humans

Putnam, S., Noonan, M., Bellia, C. & Previc, F. H. Direction and Reliability of Head Tilt in Humans. Laterality 1, 153–160 (1996).

It has been proposed that asymmetry in the inner ear underlies various manifestations of brain-behavior asymmetry in the human. Specifically, Previc (1991) argued that an otolith imbalance manifests itself in an asymmetrical head posture, and later (1994) suggested that head tilt may be consonant with other measures of human laterality. The present study tested the reliability of head tilt across days and assessed its relationship with handedness, footedness, and eyedness. As in Previc’s earlier studies, a majority of our subjects tilted rightward. Head tilt proved to be highly stable across days but was not correlated with the other laterality measures. These findings suggest that head tilt may reflect an underlying asymmetric substrate which appears not to be directly related to other measures of cerebral hemispheric dominance.

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Earedness (Ear Choice in Monaural Tasks)

Noonan, M. & Axelrod, S. Earedness (Ear choice in monaural tasks): Its measurement and relationship to other lateral preferences. Journal of Auditory Research, 1981, 21, 263-277.

We report the results of studies in which ear preference was measured, including an investigation of lateral preferences in telephone use, and of studies determining whether differential ear preferences would be elicited by verbal and by musical stimuli. In devising the tasks and testing environment, we took care to minimize the influences of (1) other lateral preferences, e.g., handedness and footedness, which might have operated if S had to handle the sound source, or had to stoop or lean to listen to it; and (2) asymmetries in the environment which might have induced S to favor a particular body orientation.

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On the Laterality of Psychogenic Somatic Symptoms

Axelrod, S., Noonan, M. & Atanacio, B. On the laterality of psychogenic somatic symptoms. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 1980, 168, 517-525.

Tabulation of cases reported in the literature of unilateral psychogenic somatic symptoms revealed that more symptoms were on the left side of the body than on the right; this result, although falling short of statistical significance, is consistent with recent reviews of hospital records by Stern and by Galin et al. A review of organic diseases and traumata for which lateral preferences have been reported, and a retrospective study of hospital emergency room records, provided no evidence for the hypothesis that the left-sided predominance of psychogenic symptoms is underlain by a generalized greater vulnerability of the left side to organic pathologies. The status of three other explanations for the asymmetrical incidence of psychogenic symptoms is discussed.

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Classification of Random Forms and Distortions Presented to the Left or Right Visual Field

Axelrod, S., Leiber, L. & Noonan, M. Classification of random forms and distortions presented to the left or right visual field. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 1978, 47, 615-621.

Twenty right-handed undergraduate men were taught in free vision to categorize distortions of prototypic random forms and were then tested in a Go/No Go task with lateralized tachistoscopic presentations of previously sorted (old) distortions, new distortions, the prototypes, and unrelated forms. Accuracy of performance on positive items increased in the order New < Old < Prototype. More false alarms occurred to unrelated items in the right than in the left visual field, suggesting that the trace systems generated during training had different characteristics in the two hemispheres.

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