[Paleopsych] Wired 13.02: Revenge of the Right Brain
Thrst4knw at aol.com
Thrst4knw at aol.com
Mon Apr 25 16:43:04 UTC 2005
Ross, there is some confusion between hemisphere specialization (which no one
familiar with neuroscience can reasonably argue) and the strong
hemisphericity thesis which says that a particular cerebral hemisphere is neccessary and
sufficient for a set of important higher level cognitive functions or properties
such as reasoning, creativity, intelligence, suggestibility, and so on.
Roger Sperry's remarkable observations on hemisphere specialization led to
not only advances in neuroscience and deep insights into the higher cognitive
functions but also a predictable glut of speculations about how some cultures or
subcultures were only using half of their brain, how the right brain was the
unique source of creativity and wisdom and how "drawing on the right side of
the brain" was the secret missing element to Western education. These things
were based on a radical version of the strong hemisphericity hypothesis that
has indeed been widely rejected for good reason. I think that's what Lynn was
referring to, and is definitely what I was referring to.
It took years for educators to come to grips with the fact that hemisphere
specialization didn't neccessarily mean that they should be replacing academic
pedagogy wholesale with Zen koans in order to activate the "creative
hemisphere." Of course like most misleading ideas it wasn't entirely wrong. The
hemispheres are indeed specialized, however they are not individually neccessary and
sufficient for particular higher cognitive functions, they are used together
for anything resembling normal thinking and behavior, and education crosses
their specializations. The specialization is still of great theoretical interes
t as well, I think.
In a message dated 4/25/2005 11:28:47 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
ross.buck at uconn.edu writes:
Who has discounted right brain/left brain differences, and on what evidence?
Anyone with experience with aphasia knows that right brain/left brain
differences are powerful: language is organized in the left hemisphere in over 90% of
humans (right or left handedness makes little difference: people are right or
left footed and eyed as well). And there is considerable evidence that the
right hemisphere is associated with emotional expressiveness (facial expression
and vocal prosody) as well as spatial abilities.
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