Issues in Neuroscience

Issues in Neuroscience

Question:  In the Visual Ability test, a split-brain patient was shown an image in the left visual field but could not name the object. Explain why and identify the specialized functions that were discovered with regard to hemispheric lateralization. Consider some of the difficulties the split-brain operation causes and the strategies you would recommend to help a patient manage them. Was it ethical to do this study? Was it right to trade the suffering experienced by participants for the knowledge gained by the research? 

Modified:3/30/2014 10:37 AM

The split-brain is a condition that results after the communication between the two hemispheres of the brain has been hindered.  The primary pathway through which to transfer information in our brains is the corpus callosum.  Severing the corpus callosum is referred to as a callosotomy and is a last resort to treat severe forms of epilepsy.  The right and left hemispheres of our brain are specialized to carry out different tasks.  The left hemisphere is able to process one channel of information at a time, but is used to put things in sequence.  This allows us to do things such as use language.  The right hemisphere on the other hand, can process multiple channels simultaneously, allowing us to do a number of things such as process visual information.  When these two sides cannot communicate, a number of problems may result.  Be sure to address all aspects of the assignment in your initial post.

Prof. S.

Issues in Neuroscience

Argosy University

  In the 1940s, it was established that disconnecting the two hemisphere of cerebral through dividing corpus callosum reduced the effects of epilepsy among the epileptic patients. This was because the sectioning of the nerve fibres’ bridge which connected the two hemispheres did not interfere with the interhemispheric processing. However, tests carried out on patients who had been operated reveal that there are dramatic effects brought about by the disconnection. This problem is known as the split-brain brain syndrome and has some effects on the patients’ cognitive skills.

  Patients suffering from this syndrome are unable to verbally name an object that is placed on their left hand side if their eyes are closed. This is despite the fact that they can tell an object placed on their right when their eyes are closed. However, if the object is placed among many items and placed on the patient’s left hand, he or she can easily select the item from the other objects. This problem is brought about by the fact that the left hemisphere has access to speech something that the right hemisphere does not have access to. This syndrome is caused by the fact the splitting of the brain makes it unable to coordinate its activities. The right hand part of the brain is unable to know what its left part is doing whereas the left part is unable to know what the right hand part of the brain is doing (Plotnik & Kouyoumjian, 2011).

  To control this condition, patients should pay a lot of attention to what they do. This stems from the fact that the two parts of the brain do not coordinate in their operations which makes it hard for one part of the brain to understand what the other part is doing. In this case, through paying attention, the patient will be able to coordinate the activities of both parts of the brain.

  Doing this experience was ethically right if the identity of the person the experiment was conducted on was not revealed. This is because the experiment was aimed to find out ways of helping the other patients suffering from this problem and not for the benefit of the people conducting the experiment.


Plotnik, R., & Kouyoumjian, H. (2011). Introduction to psychology. Belmont, CA:   Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Footnote: I am sorry about the assignment being late as I had walking pneumonia. I tried to sit to my computer yesterday after work and seeing the Doctor but just kept falling to sleep. Had to just give it up and try again today.



(an instructor response)


Hi June,

You provide useful information about the limitations of the split brain individual.  Could you talk more specifically about how you would assist this person? Also, aside from maintaining confidentiality, are there any other potential ethical issues?

Prof. S.




        First of all I hope you are doing better! I’m so sorry to hear that you have walking pneunomia. It can
be so tricky because you don’t “think” that your that sick, until you go to the doctor and he orders
you to stay home from work for the next 3 weeks! 

        I really enjoyed reading your posting and wanted to ask you about your statement;

     “To control this condition, the patient should pay attention to what they do. This stems from the fact that the two parts of the brain do not coordinate in their operations which makes it hard for one part of the brain to understand what the other part is doing. In this case, through paying attention, the patient will be able to coordinate the activities of both parts of the brain.”

Would you please explain what you meant by “through paying attention.” If a patient has a split-brain procedure and it is an acute disconnection, the patient is going to be struggling with many different types of coordination;

     “When the corpus callosum of a right-handed, left-hemisphere dominate patient is sectioned, there often follow mild akinesia, imperviousness and mutism as well as competitive movements between two hands. There are left-hand apraxia to verbal command, left-arm hypotonia, well coordinated but repetitive reaching, groping or grasping with the left hand, and
bilateral Babinski responses. Symptoms vary across patients and reflect edema from retraction (of one hemisphere to allow surgical approach) as well as diaschistic shock to both hemispheres due to the radical disconnection. It is suggested by some that complete callosotomy (section of the corpus callosum alone) in cases where speech and manual dominance are in opposite hemispheres may result in prolonged loss of spontaneous speech” (Bogen, Zaidel & Zaidel, 2014)

What would be your suggestion to the patient about how to best work with their new set of symptoms (post-op), so they can better understand how to achieve this control? 

Please take good care of yourself!


Jan 🙂 


Bogen, J., Zaidel, D. & Zaidel, E.. (None Stated). The Split brain. In Retrieved 04/07/2014, from 



I need these questions answered today please!!! Must go to work. Called in. MUST BE DONE TODAY BY 10:00 P.M. cst