Technology and the origin of human hemispheric asymmetry Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/mp48sg45q

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  • This paper proposes that human asymmetrical hemispheric function originated because of the cognitive requirements of tool-making. The human brain can be considered to be a product of two evolutionary episodes. The first episode was shared with other mammals and resulted in a brain composed of a reptilian complex, paleomammalian and bilaterally symmetrical neomammalian structures. The second episode represents a break from a bilaterally symmetrical mammalian brain indicated by asymmetrically functioning hemispheres specialized for sequencing motor action (left) and spatial processing (right). Several models have been advanced to explain the origin of asymmetry including: a cognitive mapping model proposed by Webster (1977) (right hemisphere specialization); a language model proposed by Hewes (1973) and Kimura (1976) (left hemisphere specialization for language sequencing); and a praxic ordering model rooted in Kimura's language model and developed by Frost (1980) and Corballis (1982). This suggests tool behavior selected for left hemisphere motor sequencing through unimanual activity as reflected in the propensity toward right-handedness. Any satisfactory model must account for both left and right hemisphere specializations which none of the above taken separately do. A close look at the cognitive requirements of tool-making indicates the need for both motor sequencing and spatial processing. The process of making an artifact implies a change in matter from unorganized to organized form by a series of motor actions produced in a defined sequence. That sequence, however, appears to be guided a priori by a mental template of the intended result. This sequence/template model of tool production requires both sequential motor action and the ability to produce mental templates (spatial images) of the intended form and suggests selection for both left hemisphere specialization and right hemisphere specialization as well as the necessity for the two processes to communicate.
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