This site is part of the Undergraduate Behavioral Neuroscience Resource Project at Macalester University in St. Paul, MN. Although not stated directly, it appears to have been written by undergraduate psychology majors at Macalester. To quote the site, "the Undergraduate Behavioral Neuroscience Resource Project was launched to provide college undergraduates, advanced high school students, and anyone else that may be interested with up-to-date, accurate, and yet understandable information about topics related to behavioral neuroscience." This particular set of pages on split brain consciousness explores the function of the brain's hemispheres, how information is shared between them via the largest of the interhemispheric commissures, and what symptoms result as a consequence of a split brain operation in which the commissure is severed.
After reading through these web pages, one should be able to describe a split brain operation, hemispheric specialization, how the brain and body communicate, the history of split brain research, and how the behavior of a split brain individual differs from that of a person with an intact corpus callosum.
Target Student Population:
The target student populations are college undergraduates and advanced high school students. The general public also would find this website interesting and easy to understand.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Type of Material:
This website is a presentation consisting predominantly of text with a few graphics (at least one of which is animated).
This material would be best used as an outside (of class) reading assignment for students. It contains more information than can usually be covered in class about this topic and, therefore, would add to students' knowledge in this area.
Evaluation and Observation
This is a well-researched and, generally, well-written site that includes thought-provoking information on cerebral lateralization and the behavior of split brain individuals.
The reviewers have a number of concerns about this site.
(1) The homepage opens with a quote that is out of context and confusing. An explanation of the quote is provided much later, but it should be more directly associated with the quote.
(2) There are a few punctuation and grammatical errors on the pages.
(3) The authors may overemphasize, at times, the separate capabilities of the two cerebral hemispheres. Given the sensationalism seen in the media over left brain versus right brain, this is an area in which psychologists and psychology students need to tread carefully.
(4) The section on the behavior of split brain individuals ends with a discussion of the dreams of split brain patients which was more confusing than educational.
(5) Some references are dated. Certainly the seminal articles should be referenced (such as the 1969 article by Sperry), but others are not of such import and are merely dated.
(6) The bold different colored and patterned backgrounds of each link are distracting.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The information provided can be used to increase student interest and knowledge of the subject.
The site is limited in how it can be used in teaching.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The site is easy to use. The layout of the pages is straightforward. There are links off the homepage on the various topics covered, but one can link back to the homepage from any one of these. Other links those with explanatory material) are easily discernible as the words that may need explanation are underlined and futher highlighted with a contrasting font color. The pages are kept fairly short so that reading through them is quick and easy.
Some graphics are missing and there are a few non-working links that should be updated. The background and font colors are sometimes not compatible, making it difficult to read.
Other Issues and Comments:
Psychological concepts may be diffcult to understand without additional information.