Cerebral Lateralization is Norman Geschwind's last and perhaps most controversial work. Cowritten with Albert M. Galaburda, it presents his bold theory of left-handedness and brain development, exploring as no other current study has done the biology behind cerebral dominance or the specialization of the left and right sides of the brain for different functions.
This book, which illustrates and expands material that appeared in three issues of The Archives of Neurology, provides extensive discussions of the anatomical and chemical differences between the hemispheres, their development in fetal life, their evolution, and their relationship to hemispheric function. The various factors that affect brain structure—endocrinological, immunological, and genetic—particularly dominance characteristics in intrauterine life, are fully covered, offering new insights into the nature-nurture question and pointing up the importance of the fetal environment in altering the properties of the brain.
Many other intriguing areas are explored - the evidence for anatomical asymmetry during evolution and in other species, the concept of handedness and problems of its assessment, anatomical alterations in the brains of dyslexics, the advantages and disadvantages of cerebral dominance such as the elevated rate of left-handedness in certain highly skilled occupations, its association with childhood learning disorders, immune disease, and twinning. Seyeral sections are devoted to diseases with unilateral predominance in the brain or the body and those associated with particular dominance patterns.
The final chapter, which deals with asymmetries in physics and chemistry and their possible relationship to the eventual development of dominance in both humans and other species, shows the importance of asymmetry of the nervous system in probably all animals.
Norman Geschwind, M.D. (1926-1984) was James Jackson Putnam Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Director of the Neurological Unit, Beth Israel Hospital, and Professor of Psychology at MIT. Albert M. Galaburda, M.D. is Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. A Bradford Book.