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date: 12 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In 1865 Paul Broca stated, “we speak with the left hemisphere.” In many accounts of Broca’s work, he was referring to right-handers and meant that left-handers speak with the right hemisphere—what I call the “reversal hypothesis.” They go on to note his error in light of current evidence that the majority of left-handers speak with the left. Eling (1984) called such accounts misrepresentations, arguing that Broca’s analysis of the relation between cerebral control for speech and handedness was more compatible with current evidence. He suggested that our better understanding of the relation might have come sooner “had the original papers been properly read” (p. 159). Who, then, originated the “reversal hypothesis,” when and how did it rise to become a neuropsychological “rule,” when and how did it fall, and did Broca ever correct the record or change his mind? These questions and more are addressed in this chapter.

Keywords: Paul Broca, speech, handedness, history, neuropsychology, localization, lateralization

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