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Information Processing and Higher Psychological Functions in the Disconnected Hemispheres of Human Commissurotomy Patients


Levy, Jerre (1970) Information Processing and Higher Psychological Functions in the Disconnected Hemispheres of Human Commissurotomy Patients. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/N7VN-TP54.


Several patients of P. J. Vogel who had undergone cerebral commissurotomy for the control of intractable epilepsy were tested on a variety of tasks to measure aspects of cerebral organization concerned with lateralization in hemispheric function. From tests involving identification of shapes it was inferred that in the absence of the neocortical commissures, the left hemisphere still has access to certain types of information from the ipsilateral field. The major hemisphere can still make crude differentiations between various left-field stimuli, but is unable to specify exact stimulus properties. Most of the time the major hemisphere, having access to some ipsilateral stimuli, dominated the minor hemisphere in control of the body.

Competition for control of the body between the hemispheres is seen most clearly in tests of minor hemisphere language competency, in which it was determined that though the minor hemisphere does possess some minimal ability to express language, the major hemisphere prevented its expression much of the time. The right hemisphere was superior to the left in tests of perceptual visualization, and the two hemispheres appeared to use different strategies in attempting to solve the problems, namely, analysis for the left hemisphere and synthesis for the right hemisphere.

Analysis of the patients' verbal and performance I.Q.'s, as well as observations made throughout testing, suggest that the corpus callosum plays a critical role in activities that involve functions in which the minor hemisphere normally excels, that the motor expression of these functions may normally come through the major hemisphere by way of the corpus callosum.

Lateral specialization is thought to be an evolutionary adaptation which overcame problems of a functional antagonism between the abilities normally associated with the two hemispheres. The tests of perception suggested that this function lateralized into the mute hemisphere because of an active counteraction by language. This latter idea was confirmed by the finding that left-handers, in whom there is likely to be bilateral language centers, are greatly deficient on tests of perception.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:(Psychobiology)
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Major Option:Biology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Sperry, Roger Wolcott
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:2 December 1969
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:08072015-095846342
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:9085
Deposited By: Benjamin Perez
Deposited On:07 Aug 2015 22:15
Last Modified:16 May 2024 23:31

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