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Left Brain vs. Right Brain
- Information on the subject matter was obtained from an article by Cherry, K. It is titled Left Brain vs. Right Brain. I retrieved it from: http://psychology.about.com/od/cognitivepsychology/a/left-brain-right-brain.htm [Accessed: 29 Nov 2013]. The article was released on 14th August 2013.
- The main idea the article is explaining is that there is no dominant hemisphere of the brain; instead it works as a unit. As such, the claims that the creativity levels and hobbies of an individual portray the more superior brain side are absolutely false. The author, in this article, provides some historical information about the emergence of the left brain right brain theory and the circumstances that led to its acceptance and explains why despite proving that the split brain theory is untrue and unfounded; it is still very popular (Cherry, 2013).
- This first paper is the original source which Cherry, the author of the media article, used.
- The question addressed by this paper is does brain lateralization explain the left versus right brain theory and hemispherical dominance (Nielsen & Zielinski et al., 2013)?
Methods: The researcher used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans of 1011 subjects while in their resting states. Out of the 1011, 587 were male while 424 were female subjects. The subjects were all between 7 and 29 years of age. The BOLD (blood oxygen level dependent) contrast was used in this study so as to ensure accurate results. Normalized and segmented images were used for this study and they focused on the activity of three main areas of the brain, the grey matter, white matter and the cerebrospinal fluid. In addition to this, specific areas of both the right and left hemispheres were keenly considered such as the Broca’s area on the left and the frontal eye fields on the right (Nielsen & Zielinski et al., 2013)
- Results: In all the subjects, brain lateralization was evident. This is to mean that in some instances, particular areas of the brain lit up more than the rest depending on the images that the subject in question was shown. However, there were no instances of dominance of either side of the brain since in no event did one side of the brain light up independent of the other side (Nielsen & Zielinski et al., 2013).
- Conclusion: They concluded that an individual cannot be exclusively right or left-brained as per common perception though greater or less lateralization may exist. Therefore, a person’s creativity for example does not display hemispherical dominance (Nielsen & Zielinski et al., 2013).
- Assessment: The results and conclusions from this research article support the media article. This is because both agree on the fact that there is no hemispherical dominance, instead the brain functions as a whole. In both the empirical article and the media article, they explain that the notion of left brained and right brained individuals is false because both hemispheres of the brain are connected and thus one side of the brain cannot function independently from the other.
- Question: The researchers wanted to point out the independent functioning of the two hemispheres of the brain so as to prove their functions and the effect of resection of the corpus callosum.
- Method: Experiments was carried out on a patient that had undergone complete resection of the corpus callosum (which connect the two hemispheres and facilitates transmission of impulse) (Metcalfe & Funnell et al., 1995). During the experiment, the subject was shown a series of images; the first lot was of familiar and related objects while the second lot was of unfamiliar and unrelated objects (Metcalfe & Funnell et al., 1995).
- Results: The result was that the right hemisphere easily identified with the familiar objects while the left hemisphere was unable to accept them (Metcalfe & Funnell et al., 1995). For the unknown images, the left hemisphere easily identified them and made a logical assumption about them despite them being unrelated while the right hemisphere rejected them since they were foreign.
- Conclusion: The researchers concluded that the left hemisphere and not the right is more sensitive to variations in the environment and that it is more likely to try and make sense of it. The right hemisphere is more reliant on familiar occurrences and is unable to integrate new information as the left hemisphere does (Metcalfe & Funnell et al., 1995).
- Assessment: The results obtained are contradictory to the ideas brought forth in the media idea. This is because it is clear that the two hemispheres have distinct functions and the left brain seems superior to the right. However, the media idea refutes this by stating that none is superior and that they work together in unanimity.
- Question: The question in this final article is whether a link is present between brain plasticity and the behavior of an individual and to what extent hemispherical dominance determines this (Kolb & Gibb et al., 2003).
- Method: Experiments were conducted on a diverse group of people, such as those assumed to be left and right brained. 12 people participated in this study; three were right brained, another three left brained. Three others had undergone resection of the corpus callosum and the last three were normal, neither left nor right brained. To all the subjects, simple tasks were given in order to determine the functionality of the brain. Simple alterations were then made on the nervous systems (through electric charges for example) of the subjects and the tests conducted again. The method and selection of the subjects was done in order to ensure that the information obtained was unbiased and accurate in every conceivable way.
- Results: Results that showed that when the nervous system was altered, there was a corresponding change in the performance of an individual. For example, a previously humble person can become more arrogant (Kolb & Gibb et al., 2003). In addition to this, their research showed that the change in the nervous system also transformed the more dominant hemisphere that the person used.
- Conclusion: The researchers established that behavioral changes in a person are affected by brain plasticity which in turn affects their hemispherical dominance. This was due to the lateralization of the brain and the varied and complex connections in the brain.
- Assessment: The media article contradicts the arguments brought forth in this article. They emphasize the prominence of one of the hemispheres. They explain that changes in behavior are affected by plasticity and the more dominant hemisphere (Kolb & Gibb et al., 2003). The article does not support the media article that no superior brain hemisphere exists (Cherry, 2013)
- In order to investigate the question further, a different experiment needs to be conducted.
- a) Question: The aim of this experiment would be to prove that the brain works in unison and that none of the two hemispheres overrides the other in terms of functionality.
- The process that I would use for testing will be fMRI, because it is both an accurate and non-invasive method. Its efficiency is based on the fact that it is dependent on cerebral flow of blood as well as the activation of neurons in the brain. Since blood flow to the brain is consistent, the test is accurate. In this test, when a particular area of the brain is in use, more blood flows towards that area and the screen lights up.
- The condition in experimental design would be to group the subjects into independent and dependent variables. This would be based on the subjects being for example left or right brained or one that has undergone a resection and a normal person who is neither left nor right brained to act as a control. This selection would be done in order to avoid bias and ensure precision. A series of activities will be carried out such as identification of pictures and sounds both familiar or not and some questions that require logic. These tasks selected will target particular areas of the brain but at the same time will show the joint working of both brain hemispheres in the completion of these tasks.
- Predicted results in this case would be that, in all the subjects with an intact corpus callosum, both hemispheres would light up and not only one hemisphere as is claimed by the supporters of the right versus left brain theory. In the case of a patient with a resected corpus callosum, only one of the hemispheres would light up since there is no communication between both sides of the brain.
- From this information, it would prove that there is no distinctly left of right brained individual but instead that the brain works in unison. This would support the original media articles opinion with regard to the matter (Cherry, 2013).
Cherry, K. (2013). Left Brain vs. Right Brain. [Online] Retrieved from: http://psychology.about.com/od/cognitivepsychology/a/left-brain-right-brain.htm [Accessed: 29 Nov 2013].
Nielsen, J., Zielinski, B., Ferguson, M., Lainhart, J. & Anderson, J. (2013). An Evaluation of the Left-Brain vs. Right-Brain Hypothesis with Resting State Functional Connectivity Magnetic Resonance Imaging. PLOS ONE, 8 (8), e71275. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071275.
Kolb, B., Gibb, R. & Robinson, T. (2003). Brain plasticity and behavior. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12 (1), 1–5.
Metcalfe, J., Funnell, M. & Gazzaniga, M. (1995). Right-hemisphere memory superiority: Studies of a split-brain patient. Psychological Science, 157–164.