May 15, 2013
In the 1960s Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga conducted human neurological studies in California to determine a better understanding regarding the communication of the brain’s hemispheres. Through their research we have learned many things about human brain function. The experiment involved removing the cause of epilepsy in severely affected individuals by severing the corpus callosum nerve fibers thereby separating left hemisphere from right. Many of the daily motions we take for granted using a whole brain would be altered and distorted when the right brain cannot contact the left brain.
Some medical professionals entertained ideas that the brain was better off separated than as one unit, that the cognitive powers were greater with separated function. However, the gain in this respect was severely diminished by the handicap of the right hemisphere and spoken language. The results of the experiments, in my opinion, prove beyond doubt that the brain is a single functioning unit. Thinking of the left and right hemispheres as a system of checks and balances is a good way to understand them- each side specializes in different areas but contains the capability of functioning almost independently on its own. The brain was designed to be joined by the corpus callosum to allow complete functionality.
In the French study of 1998 by Hommet and Billiard, which concluded that children born without a corpus callosum still demonstrated joined brain characteristics, the very principles of Sperry and Gazzaniga’s theory were questioned. The brain, perhaps, has other means of communications besides the corpus callosum and better developed those in the cases of the test babies. If true, all ties joining the hemispheres were not severed with removal of only the corpus callosum and the whole experimental research would be altered. The research information, however, would still be very important, especially in the dark world of neuroscience.