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The split brain: a tale of two halves

A while ago I posted some videos of Roger Sperry’s research into lateralisation of function in epileptic patients who had had their corpus callosum severed to varying degrees. Now for more Sperry related goodies. There is a great article over at the Nature about the cohort of participants who had their corpus callosum severed and have since been the focus of both Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga’s research for the last few decades.

In the first months after her surgery, shopping for groceries was infuriating. Standing in the supermarket aisle, Vicki would look at an item on the shelf and know that she wanted to place it in her trolley — but she couldn’t. “I’d reach with my right for the thing I wanted, but the left would come in and they’d kind of fight,” she says. “Almost like repelling magnets.” Picking out food for the week was a two-, sometimes three-hour ordeal. Getting dressed posed a similar challenge: Vicki couldn’t reconcile what she wanted to put on with what her hands were doing. Sometimes she ended up wearing three outfits at once. “I’d have to dump all the clothes on the bed, catch my breath and start again.”

Since the 1960s, researchers have been scrutinising a handful of patients who underwent a radical kind of brain surgery. The cohort has been a boon to neuroscience — but soon it will be gone. Read about Vicki and others here: Nature: A Tale of Two Halves

 

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