Right Brain, Left Brain

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The article in which I chose to examine is called Right Brain, Left Brain:

Fact and Fiction, written by Jerre Levy. In the past fifteen years or so

there has been a lot of talk of left brain and right brain people. Levy's

reason for righting this article was clearly to stop the misconceptions and

show the truth about how our brain hemispheres operate.

Levy first explores the myth of the left brain and right brain theory.

She states that generally people see the left hemisphere of the brain

controlling logic and language and the right, creativity and intuition. In

addition people differ in their styles of thought, depending on which half

of the brain is dominant. She believes that most of what these notions

state is farce.

Next the article explores the history of this fascination of the left and

right hemispheres of the brain. Apparently the study of this aspect of the

brain traces back to time of Hippocrates. Levy weaves in and out of the

various theories and prominent people known for contributing to the

confusion. It wasn't until 1962 when Roger W. Sperry began experimenting

on certain aspects of the brain that contribute to the truth of the left

and right brain theory. Sperry studied people who had undergone surgical

division of the corpus callosum, the bridge between the two hemispheres.

His studies showed that, "an object placed in the right hand (left

hemisphere) could be named readily, but one placed in the left hand

(nonverbal right hemisphere) could be neither named nor described.

Next to branch off of Sperry's studies was psychologist Doreen Kimura.

Kimura developed behavioral methods which involved presenting visual

stimuli rapidly to either the left or right visual fields. Another

important method developed was "dichotic listening" which centered around

the use of sound to study the hemispheres. Through these tests and the

continual study the theory that the left brain controlled ended. Instead a

new theory was born known as the two-brain theory. This said that at

different times one of the two hemispheres would be operating. An example

of this is that the right hemisphere is in control when an artist paints

but the left hemisphere was in control when a novelist wrote a book.

This theory failed because of one physical studies showed that people with

hemispheres surgically disconnected could operate in everyday life. Also,

research demonstrated that each hemisphere had its own functional

expertise, and that the two halves were complementary.

Next, the article states its worth. The author shows the up to date

agreed upon theory of the two hemispheres in five simple points.

1. The two hemispheres are so similar that when they are disconnected by

split-brain surgery, each can function remarkably well, although quite


2. Although they are remarkably similar they are also different. The

differences are seen in contrasting contributions. Each hemisphere

contributes something to every action a person takes.

3. Logic is not confined to the left hemisphere. Although dominant in the

left logic is present in the right hemisphere.

4. There is no evidence that either creativity or intuition is an

exclusive property of the right hemisphere. Same theory as #3.

5. Since the two hemispheres do not function independently, and since each

hemisphere contributes its special capacities to all cognitive activities,

it is quite impossible to educate one hemisphere at a time in a normal


Levy comes to the conclusion that people are not purely left or right

brained. There is a continuum in which the hemispheres work together in

harmony. Often the left or right hemisphere is more active in some people

but it is never the sole operator. She concludes, "We have a single brain

that generates a single mental self."...
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