The Two Halves of the Brain (Book Review)

On February 9, 2014
two_halves_brainThe Two Halves of the Brain (edited by Kenneth Hugdahl and René Westerhausen and published by MIT Press) got my attention 2 years ago, but I started reading it a few months ago in my free time. I have read the 2010 1st edition of this book, but there is also a 2nd edition published in 2012.
It took a while to read this book not only because of its print length (700 pages), but also because I wanted to understand as much as possible, as it presents the current state of art on cerebral lateralization with cutting-edge findings and theories which are the base of advancing the understanding of brain-behavior relations.
As the editors remark, despite all research devoted to hemispheric asymmetry and laterality over the last decades, this is an area in which big questions remain with respect to understanding perception and cognitive processing from a neural point of view. As our nervous system is divided into two halves and these hemispheres differ in their “idling” state, this fact having consequences for increases or decreases in activation in a “running” state when the brain is required to process certain stimuli or instructions. The different functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain have been studied with renewed interest in recent years, as researchers explore applications to new areas, new measuring techniques, and new theoretical approaches.
In the chapters of this book, leading researchers address such topics as:

  • the evolution and genetics of brain asymmetry;
  • animal models (nonmammalian species, songbirds, pigeons);
  • findings from structural and functional neuroimaging techniques and research;
  • sex differences and hormonal effects;
  • sleep asymmetry;
  • cognitive asymmetry in visual and auditory perception;
  • auditory laterality and speech perception;
  • hemispheric asymmetry of memory;
  • asymmetry in the context of developmental, neurological and psychiatric disorders.

This volume provides a comprehensive view of the latest research in brain asymmetry, offering not only recent empirical and clinical findings but also a coherent theoretical approach to the subject.
When thinking about this book, I tend to call it Handbook of Brain Asymmetry, as this is a comprehensive book on the fascinating topic of brain lateralization and it should be an the shelves of any neuroscience college graduate student, but also neuromarketing specialist that uses electroencephalography.
Contributors of The Two Halves of the Brain are: Katrin Amunts, Ulrike Bayer, Alfredo Brancucci, Vince D. Calhoun, Maria Casagrande, Marco Catani, Michael C. Corballis, Patricia E. Cowell, Timothy J. Crow, Tom Eichele, Stephanie Forkel, Patrick J. Gannon, Isabelle George, Onur Güntürkün, Heikki Hämäläinen, Markus Hausmann, Joseph B. Hellige, Kenneth Hugdahl, Masud Husain, Grégoria Kalpouzos, Bruno Laeng, Martina Manns, Chikashi Michimata, Deborah W. Moncrieff, Lars Nyberg, Godfrey Pearlson, Stefan Pollmann, Victoria Singh-Curry, Iris E. C. Sommer, Tao Sun, Nathan Swanson, Fiia Takio, Michel Thiebaut de Schotten, René Westerhausen.

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