Right Brain, Left Brain
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 alsodifferent. 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.”
Compared to what we did in class related to the left and right hemispheres
of the brain, both what we learned and the article taught were extremely
similar. Our exercise showed that we are not left or right brained but
merely somewhere on the scale between left and right brain. Some of us were
extreme left, few extreme right and most in the middle leaning left a bit
(this is where I fell).
I could not agree more with what we did in class and the article I read.
The author wrote a fabulous complete article. In my summary which probably
was a little lengthy, I feel I am not doing the author just. She had so
much wonderful background that there was no way to include it all. She
introduced the problem at hand and explored every aspect of the subject
showing other’s views and previously excepted theories. After all was said
she introduced her (generally accepted) theory in a simple well thought out
five point system that suited the novice as well as the expert.