Split Brain Studies

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Split-Brain Studies In split-brain studies, patients undergo surgery to sever the corpus callosum, the thick band of about 200 million nerve fibres connecting the right and left hemisphere. This operation is called a commisurotomy and prevents communication between the two hemispheres on higher cortical levels. The patients now have what is known as a split brain. The two sides of the brain are still connected at the subcortical (deeper) level but the cerebral hemispheres are separated. This invasive method is undertaken to prevent the spread of severe epileptic seizures from one side of the brain to the other. Split brain patients do not seem to have any major side effects as a result of their surgery, despite the fact that, after the operation, the two hemispheres virtually act as two independent brains. VISUAL EFFECTS/HOW IT HAPPENS: Visual stimuli fall on the retina at the back of each eye. The retina contains a layer of nerve cells (photoreceptors) that convert visual light energy (electromagnetic radiation) into electrochemical energy (nerve impulses). This conversion of energy is called transduction and the energy is then transmitted along the optic nerve to the brain, Each eye has its own optic nerve and these meet and cross over information at the optic chiasm. Here information from the left visual field of each eye (that falls on the right side of each retina) is transmitted to the right primary visual cortex in the occipital lobe for processing. Information from the right visual field of each eye (that falls on the left side of each retina) is transmitted to the left primary visual cortex in the occipital lobe. SO ONCE WE KNOW THIS… Without the communication between the two hemispheres, it is harder for individuals to complete certain tasks. For example (page 202), an experiment involved a participant seeing two words – one in the left

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