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Lateralization of brain function

1. Brain Hemisphere Functions and Specialization: – Language functions are typically left-lateralized in right-handed individuals. – Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area are located in the […]

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1. Brain Hemisphere Functions and Specialization:
– Language functions are typically left-lateralized in right-handed individuals.
– Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area are located in the left hemisphere for most right-handers.
– Social interactions and mathematical information are provided by the right hemisphere.
– Numerical estimation and calculation depend on bilateral parietal regions.
– Exact calculation and fact retrieval are associated with left parietal regions.
– Left hemisphere is associated with semantic processing, while the right hemisphere is specialized for episodic memory.
– The left hemisphere is known for its linear processing abilities, while the right hemisphere is considered more random.
– The corpus callosum facilitates communication between the two brain hemispheres.
– Brain asymmetry mapping has been a focus of studies in neuroscience.

2. Clinical Significance of Brain Hemisphere Damage:
– Depression is linked with hyperactive right hemisphere.
– Left hemisphere lesions result in an omissive response bias.
– Right hemisphere lesions result in a commissive response bias.
– Delusional misidentification syndromes are often due to right hemisphere lesions.
– Hemisphere damage provides insight into brain function.
– Left hemisphere damage affects language production and perception.
– Right hemisphere damage results in a lack of emotional prosody.
– Lateral brain damage affects visual perceptual spatial resolution.

3. Plasticity and Adaptability of Brain Functions:
– Functions can be assumed by neighboring regions if a specific brain region is injured.
– Plasticity allows for function assumption by corresponding regions in the other hemisphere.
– Plasticity depends on the area damaged and the patient’s age.
– Injury interference with pathways can lead to function assumption by neighboring regions.
– Plasticity enables the brain to adapt to damage and reroute functions.

4. Misconceptions and Debunking of Brain Hemisphere Myths:
– The concept of being right-brained or left-brained is oversimplified.
– Research on brain lateralization has been misapplied and commercialized.
– The tendencies of left and right-brained people are nuanced.
– Neuroscience research has debunked gender associations with brain lateralization.
– Popular psychology oversimplifies lateralization in the brain.

5. Historical and Scientific Perspectives on Brain Lateralization:
– Brain function lateralization research by Pierre Paul Broca and Karl Wernicke.
– Imaging techniques like MRI and PET allow comparison of healthy brain hemispheres.
– Wilder Penfield and Herbert Jasper’s brain mapping technique.
– Split-brain patients studied by Gazzaniga and Sperry for understanding functional laterality.
– The book ‘The Master and His Emissary’ and other resources delve into the impact of brain lateralization on Western civilization.

Lateralization of brain function (Wikipedia)

The lateralization of brain function (or hemispheric dominance/ latralisation) is the tendency for some neural functions or cognitive processes to be specialized to one side of the brain or the other. The median longitudinal fissure separates the human brain into two distinct cerebral hemispheres, connected by the corpus callosum. Although the macrostructure of the two hemispheres appears to be almost identical, different composition of neuronal networks allows for specialized function that is different in each hemisphere.

Diagram of the human brain.
The human brain is divided into two hemispheres–left and right. Scientists continue to explore how some cognitive functions tend to be dominated by one side or the other; that is, how they are lateralized.
  Right cerebral hemisphere
  Left cerebral hemisphere

Lateralization of brain structures is based on general trends expressed in healthy patients; however, there are numerous counterexamples to each generalization. Each human's brain develops differently, leading to unique lateralization in individuals. This is different from specialization, as lateralization refers only to the function of one structure divided between two hemispheres. Specialization is much easier to observe as a trend, since it has a stronger anthropological history.

The best example of an established lateralization is that of Broca's and Wernicke's areas, where both are often found exclusively on the left hemisphere. Function lateralization, such as semantics, intonation, accentuation, and prosody, has since been called into question and largely been found to have a neuronal basis in both hemispheres. Another example is that each hemisphere in the brain tends to represent one side of the body. In the cerebellum, this is the same body side, but in the forebrain this is predominantly the contralateral side.

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