Left-hemispheric language dominance is a well-known characteristic of the human language system. However, it has been shown that leftward language lateralization decreases dramatically when people communicate using whistles. Whistled languages present a transformation of a spoken language into whistles, facilitating communication over great distances. In order to investigate the laterality of Silbo Gomero, a form of whistled Spanish, we used a vocal and a whistled dichotic listening task in a sample of 75 healthy Spanish speakers. Both individuals that were able to whistle and to understand Silbo Gomero and a non-whistling control group showed a clear right-ear advantage for vocal dichotic listening. For whistled dichotic listening, the control group did not show any hemispheric asymmetries. In contrast, the whistlers’ group showed a right-ear advantage for whistled stimuli. This right-ear advantage was, however, smaller compared to the right-ear advantage found for vocal dichotic listening. In line with a previous study on language lateralization of whistled Turkish, these findings suggest that whistled language processing is associated with a decrease in left and a relative increase in right hemispheric processing. This shows that bihemispheric processing of whistled language stimuli occurs independent of language.
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