An interesting example of lateralisation of function is when two different objects were placed in each hand at the same time and then removed and hidden for retrieval in a scrambled pile of test items. Each hand hunted through the pile and searched out its own object. During the search each hand was seen to explore, identify and reject the item for which the other hand was searching. Although the performance of ‘normal’ participants would be slowed down by the competing demands of the tasks, the people with hemisphere deconnection could actually perform these double tasks in parallel, as quickly as they could perform one of the tasks on its own. It is worth noting though that even though Sperry showed that split-brain patients were better at completing such highly unusual tasks that this would have no advantage in the real world.
Explanation of Results: Sperry argued that his studies give considerable support to his argument of lateralisation of function. That is, that different areas of the brain specialise on different tasks, such as the left hand side being responsible for language. Through the case studies Sperry found that the hemisphere deconnection did not appear to affect the patients’ intelligence (as measured by an IQ test) or their personality. The effects of the surgery did seem to have affected the patients in that they had short-term memory deficits, limited concentration spans and orientation problems. He also went on to argue that each hemisphere has its own perceptions and memories and experiences.