The Wonders of the Human Brain

Few people realize what an astonishing achievement it is to be able to see at all When one reflects on the number of computations that must have to be carried out before one can recognize even such an everyday scene as another person crossing the street, one is left with a feeling of amazement that such an extraordinary series of detailed operations can be accomplished so effortlessly in such a short space of time.

—F.H.C. Crick, winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine for discovering the structure of DNA.

The human brain is an amazing thing, as celebrated in those wonderful words from British molecular biologist, Francis Crick. It is capable of lightning-fast, complicated computations, connections, responses, and reactions simultaneously—allowing for amazing feats like walking and chewing gum, or, more seriously, seeing and drawing.

Just how the brain works and how humans are evolved beyond other species fascinated early scientists, still does, and probably always will. We know that the brain has two halves and that the two sides have different functions. For the last 200 years or more, scientists and surgeons have known that functions that control speech, language, and cognitive thought are on the left side, and that visual functions are the work of the right side.

As language, speech, and logical thinking are so crucial to the human race and our sense of dominance, the left side of the brain has long been considered the stronger, more important, dominant side. The right side has been thought to be weaker, less important, maybe even dispensable.

It has also been long known that the two sides of the brain control physical operations on the opposite sides of the body. Damage or injury to one side of the brain is reflected in loss of function on the other side of the body. Damage or injury to one side of the brain is also reflected in loss of function specific to the skills managed by that side.

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