In the mid-1800’s, Paul Broca proposed the classic hemispheric dominance theory that particular characteristics were associated with each side of the brain. Initially, researchers believed the left side of the brain had the higher faculties and was more dominant. By the late 1800’s, John Jackson was questioning the left brain dominant theory. He considered the right brain to be the “neglected hemisphere”. During the early 1900’s Wilder Penfield pioneered the use of direct electrical stimulation on certain areas of the brains during surgery.
Brain theory research made tremendous strides during the 1950’s when Roger Sperry at the California Institute of Technology was able to sever the corpus callosum, the nerve fibers between the two cerebral hemispheres, and study each of the hemispheres in isolation. His split-brain theory research, for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1981, established that the two hemispheres of the brain process information differently. Individuals do not learn with only one hemisphere, but there may be a preference for one or the other processing strategies.
Characteristics of the left hemisphere include verbal, sequential, and analytical abilities. Dominant functions of the right hemisphere are global, holistic, and visual-spatial.