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Minds Behind the BrainA history of the pioneers and their discoveries$
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Stanley Finger

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195181821

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195181821.001.0001

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Roger W. Sperry and Rita Levi-Montalcini: From Neural Growth to “Split Brains”

Roger W. Sperry and Rita Levi-Montalcini: From Neural Growth to “Split Brains”

(p.281) 17 Roger W. Sperry and Rita Levi-Montalcini: From Neural Growth to “Split Brains”
Minds Behind the Brain

Stanley Finger (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Roger W. Sperry earned a reputation for his ability to design critical experiments that demanded looking at the growing and functioning nervous system in new ways. Sperry's most important discoveries fall into two distinct domains. The first group began in the 1940s and concerned how axons grow to their proper places. Early in the 1950s, having established a name in neurobiology, Sperry became interested in the role of the corpus callosum, the massive band of axons connecting the right and left cerebral hemispheres. Other mid-20th-century researchers were soon able to prove that chemical growth and guidance factors exist. The individual most responsible for this ground-breaking work was Rita Levi-Montalcini, who discovered the nerve growth factor. Levi-Montalcini is important for neuroscience because she was able to demonstrate that Sperry was headed in the right direction when he brought up the possibility of chemical guidance in the 1940s. This chapter looks at the work of Sperry and Levi-Montalcini on neural growth, split brains, chemoaffinity, visual system, and consciousness.

Keywords:   Roger W. Sperry, Rita Levi-Montalcini, neural growth, split brains, nervous system, axons, neurobiology, corpus callosum, nerve growth factor, chemoaffinity

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