Forty normal-achieving and 33 learning disabled (LD) children were assigned randomly to either a negative ion or placebo test condition. On a dichotic listening task using consonant-vowel (CV) combinations, both groups showed an ioninduced increase in the normal right ear advantage (REA).
However, the mechanisms for this effect were different for each group. The LDs showed the effect at the right ear/left hemisphere (enhancement). The normal achievers showed the effect at the left ear/right hemisphere (inhibition). The results are consistent with an activation-inhibition model of cerebral function and suggest a functional relationship between arousal, interhemispheric activation-inhibition, and learning disabilities.
The LDs may have an interhemispheric dysfunction. Both groups showed superior right ear report and the normal achiever showed overall superiority. Normal achievers showed higher consonant intrusion scores, probably due to a greater cognitive capacity. Age was a significant covariate reflecting developmental capacity changes.
Negative air ions are seen to be a tool with potential theoretical and remedial applications.