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Neuroanatomical Bases of Hemispheric Functional Specialization in the Human Brain: Developmental Factors

  • Sandra F. Witelson

Abstract

Hemispheric functional specialization or functional asymmetry is a wellestablished characteristic of functional organization in the human brain. In essence, the right and left hemispheres have different roles in mediating various behaviors and higher mental processes. Tasks involving speech production, phonemic discrimination, comprehension of oral and written language, ability to write, performance of voluntary finger, limb, and oral movements, and perception of sequences of stimuli are more dependent on left- than right-hemisphere functioning in most people. In contrast, tasks involving the perception of two- and three-dimensional visual or tactual shapes, spatial position and orientation of stimuli, perception of faces and colors, mental rotation of three-dimensional shapes, the ability to direct attention to both lateral sensory fields, perception of musical chords and melodies, perception of emotional stimuli and prosodic aspects of speech, the ability to dress oneself and to construct block models are more dependent on the right hemisphere. In the past decade, numerous books have summarized these findings based on the study of brain-damaged people with unilateral lesions, people with commissurotomy, and neurologically intact people who were tested with various behavioral and perceptual tests involving right- and left-sided input or output (e.g., Beaton, 1985; Boller and Grafman, 1988-90; Bradshaw and Nettleton, 1983; Bryden, 1982; Corballis, 1983; Damasio and Damasio, 1990; Geschwind and Galaburda, 1984; Hannay, 1986; Heilman and Valenstein, 1985; Hellige, 1983; Kolb and Whishaw, 1990; Molfese and Segalowitz, 1988; Ottoson, 1987).

Keywords

Corpus Callosum Left Hemisphere Axon Loss Sylvian Fissure Planum Temporale 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Birkhäuser Boston 1992

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  • Sandra F. Witelson

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