Nowadays, it is widely known that the right and left hemisphere have different functions. The two hemispheres are equally important in a daily life basis. Nevertheless, in the 1960’s this was not common knowledge. Even though today the importance of the brain hemispheres is common knowledge, people don’t usually know to whom attribute this findings. One of the people who contributed to form a more defined picture about the brain hemispheres and their respective functions was Roger Wolcott Sperry, with the split brain research. Roger Sperry did more contributions than the split brain research, but this is his most important and revolutionary research in the psychological field. Thanks to the split brain research, Sperry proved that the two hemispheres of the brain are important, they work together and whatever side of the brain is more capable of doing the task is the hemisphere that takes the lead.
Roger Sperry was born in Hartford, Connecticut in August 20, 1913. His parents were Francis Bushnell and Florence Kraemer Sperry of Elmwood. His father worked in the banking area and his mother was trained in business school. Sperry had a younger brother called Russell Loomis who became a chemist. When he was 11 years old, his father died. After that, Sperry’s family moved to West Hartford where his mother became the principal assistant of West Hartford High School principal. Sperry attended West Hartford High School. In high school, Sperry was an excellent athlete and performed well enough to get a 4 years Ammos C. Miller scholarship (Forrest Morrill, 2002).
By the 1931, Sperry was admitted in Oberlin College. In 1935, Roger Sperry obtained his Bachelor Degree in English. Soon after, Sperry stayed two more years in Oberlin College until he earned his Master Degree in Psychology under Professor R. H. Stetson in 1937. Then, he decided to do his PhD in Zoology in the Chicago University under Professor Paul A Weiss, one of the most prominent biologists of that time. Under Weiss’s mentorship, Sperry developed his first major scientific work about neurospecificity based on experiments that Weiss has done but misinterpreted. By 1951 he was invited to the California Institute of technology to introduce his work. In 1954, Sperry joined the California Institute faculty and stayed there for the rest of his life (Horowitz, 1997).
Since his years in college until his last days Sperry dedicated his time to work on different theories. The first major theory Sperry worked on was about neurospecificity, the way neurons are “programmed” to attach to each other’s in a certain way during the brain development (Stover & Erdmann, 2000).At that time, it was believed that the intricate and ample neural network that connects the sense organs and muscles to the brain, at the beginning is a random and undifferentiated mesh of connected fibers which with experience and learning becomes a highly coordinated and functional system seen in animals (Horowitz, 1997).