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Why Is the Human Brain Different?


Well, here’s one way. The human body is typically symmetrical. We have two kidneys and two nostrils. But that’s not what happens with the human brain, as researchers from the Max Planck Institute report:

But this so-called lateralization, the tendency for brain regions to process certain functions more in the left or right hemisphere, varies from person to person. And not only in the minority whose brains are specialized mirror-inverted compared to the majority. Even people with classically arranged brains differ in how pronounced their asymmetry is. Earlier studies had shown that this, in turn, can also affect the functions themselves. For example, a lack of left asymmetry of certain language areas is observed in dyslexia. Insufficient brain lateralization also seems to play a role in diseases such as schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders or in hyperactivity in children.

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, “The hemispheres are not equal: How the brain is not symmetrical” at Science Daily (September 15, 2022) The paper is open access.

They tried studying the matter, using monkeys. Here’s what they found:

In addition, the team found that human brains are more asymmetric than those of monkeys. “It is likely that the observed functional asymmetry reflects the interplay of both genetic and non-genetic effects derived from personal experiences” explains Bin Wan, PhD student at MPI CBS and lead author of the study now published in the journal eLife. Indeed, in older people, they observed reduced right-ward asymmetry, suggesting subtle variation across the lifespan.

Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, “The hemispheres are not equal: How the brain is not symmetrical/a>” at Science Daily (September 15, 2022)

One would think human experience makes a difference. The paper is open access.

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Why Is the Human Brain Different?