New Specification: Sperry’s Split Brain Research

Now that the A Level Psychology specifications for September 2015 are approved and published, I thought I’d focus my blogging attention on the near future.

Prize winning research

brainThe brand new AQA specification features a number of new areas including hemispheric lateralisation and split brain research (AQA A Level; 4.2.2 Biopsychology). This week on Twitter I came across an interesting article which may provide a useful opportunity to debunk a neuroscience myth whilst teaching A Level students about Sperry’s Nobel Prize winning research (Prize for Medicine awarded in 1981).

Split brain

Sperry’s research (1960’s and 1970’s) revealed that when the two hemispheres of the brain are disconnected, they become functionally separate. Studies of patients whose corpus callosum had been severed, disconnecting the left and right halves of the brain, revealed this insight.

Click here for more on lateralisation and the procedures and findings of the experiments.

Watch this video for a demonstration of the experiments.


In an article entitled “Right Brained, Wrong Brained: How Caltech Neuroscience became a Buzzfeed Quiz” (Los Angeles Magazine, Feb 9th 2015), author Jason G. Goldman highlights the inappropriate use of Sperry’s research to suggest that people can be left or right brained. The idea that people can be categorised as being one or the other, to account for our strengths and weaknesses, is a neuro-myth. The article points about that the brain needs both sides to function but that both sides need the corpus callosum to communicate. The misreporting of the findings – and a human need to find ways to explain and predict our success and failures – seems to be responsible for the widespread misuse of this finding.  The idea of right or left “brained-ness” is popular probably because it seems more scientific than horoscopes or out-dated personality classifications.

Follow this link for more about this myth.

A quote for a starter

“”The great pleasure and feeling in my right brain is more than my left brain can find the words to tell you.”

I think this great quote (above) from Roger  Sperry himself, according to, would make a great starter to get students thinking about the focus for the lesson and reveal any existing knowledge – or misconceptions – about the left and right hemispheres of the brain.


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