Symmetry and asymmetry in the human brain

Research Area: Research Year: 2005
Type of Publication: Article
Authors: Hugdahl, Kenneth
Structural and functional asymmetry in the human brain and nervous system is reviewed in a historical perspective, focusing on the pioneering work of Broca, Wernicke, Sperry, and Geschwind. Structural and functional asymmetry is exemplified from work done in our laboratory on auditory laterality using an empirical procedure called dichotic listening. This also involves different ways of validating the dichotic listening procedure against both invasive and non-invasive techniques, including PET and fMRI blood flow recordings. A major argument is that the human brain shows a substantial interaction between structurally, or ‘bottom-up’ asymmetry and cognitively, or ‘top-down’ modulation, through a focus of attention to the right or left side in auditory space. These results open up a more dynamic and interactive view of functional brain asymmetry than the traditional static view that the brain is lateralized, or asymmetric, only for specific stimuli and stimulus properties.
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