Hemisphere Deconnection and the Unity in Conscious Awareness
Sperry (Roger W.)
Source: Baars, Banks & Newman - Essential Sources in the Scientific Study of Consciousness
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. The following article is a result of studies my Colleagues and I have been conducting with some neurosurgical patients of Philip J. Vogel of Los Angeles. These patients were all advanced epileptics in whom an extensive midline section of the cerebral commissures1 had been carried out in an effort to contain severe epileptic convulsions not controlled by medication. In all these people the surgical sections included division of the corpus collosum in its entirety, plus division also of the smaller anterior and hippocampal commissures2, plus in some instances the massa intermedia. So far as I know, this is the most radical disconnection of the cerebral hemispheres attempted thus far in human surgery. The full array of sections was carried out in a single operation.
  2. No major collapse of mentality or personality was anticipated as a result of this extreme surgery: earlier clinical observations3 on surgical section of the corpus callosum in man, as well as the results from dozens of monkeys on which I had carried out this exact same surgery, suggested that the functional deficits might very likely be less damaging than some of the more common forms of cerebral surgery, such as frontal lobotomy, or even some of the unilateral lobotomies performed more routinely for epilepsy.
  3. Although the alleviation of the epilepsy has not held up 100% throughout the series (two patients are still having seizures, although their convulsions are much reduced in severity and frequency and tend to be confined to one side), the results on the whole continue to be predominantly beneficial, and the overall outlook at this time remains promising for selected severe cases.
  4. Our own work has been confined entirely to an examination of the functional outcome, that is, the behavioral, neurological, and psychological effects of this surgical disruption of all direct cross-talk between the hemispheres. Initially we were concerned as to whether we would be able to find in these patients any of the numerous symptoms of hemisphere deconnection that had been demonstrated in the so-called split-brain animal studies of the 1950s …


Also in "Kolak (Daniel) & Martin (Raymond), Eds. - Self and Identity: Contemporary Philosophical Issues".

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