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Neurocognitive Aspects of Processing Arabic and Hebrew, pp.103-122 $100.00
Authors:  Raphiq Ibrahim, Learning Disabilities Department, University of Haifa and Cognitive Neurology Department, Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, Israel
The aim of this chapter is to explore the neurocognitive basis of the difficulties that the
Arabic-Hebrew bilingual encounters in processing the Arabic language as a result of the
diglossic situation in Arabic (spoken Arabic and Modern Standard, or Literary Arabic).
Furthermore, the chapter discusses the unique features of the Arabic language that might
contribute to the inhibition and slowness of reading acquisition and might even hinder the
acquisition of basic academic skills. In the first section, two case studies of Arabic-Hebrew
aphasic patients (M.H. and M.M.) are presented, with different disturbances in the two
languages, Arabic (L1) and Hebrew (L2). They exhibited a complementary pattern of severe
impairment of either L1 (Arabic) or L2 (Hebrew) constituting a double dissociation. These
results suggested that the principles governing the organization of lexical representations in
the brain are not similar for the two languages. The second section focuses on the functional
architecture of reading in Hebrew and in Arabic. The effects of characteristics of Arabic and
Hebrew as Semitic languages on hemispheric functioning were systematically examined.
These patterns are compared with the modal findings in the literature, which are usually based
on English. Also, the effects of the absence of almost all vowel information, the orthographies
of the two languages, and their non-concatenative morphological structure were investigated.
It was shown that when languages make different types of demands upon the cognitive
system, interhemispheric interaction is dynamic and is suited to these demands. In that regard,
both Arabic and Hebrew require a higher level of interhemispheric interaction than does

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Neurocognitive Aspects of Processing Arabic and Hebrew, pp.103-122