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Brain Cogn. 2000 Jun-Aug;43(1-3):112-7.

An evolutionary perspective on hemispheric asymmetries.

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Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Dartmouth College, USA.


The evolution of hemispheric specialization of function has obvious benefits in terms of overall processing capacity, but it may also have associated costs to each hemisphere in isolation. These costs are not apparent in an intact brain since information can be readily transferred between the hemispheres via the cortical commissures. We suggest that the evolution of language in the left hemisphere may have occurred at the expense of some visuospatial functions. Because the right hemisphere was still capable of performing those functions, the relative left-hemisphere impairment for visuospatial processing would be invisible. If the cortical commissures are severed, as in callosotomy patients, the costs of specialization may become more apparent. We report data supporting the idea that the left hemisphere may have lost visuospatial abilities that it once possessed, and suggest that this process may also result in right hemisphere deficits in abilities related to linguistic processing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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