Popular psychology constantly tells us that one of the hemispheres of the brain we have developed stronger and that it determines our behavior. However, this is a misconception: the brain is a whole. The right and left hemispheres constantly transmit information to each other through neural connections. And this feature of the brain is directly related to our ability to multitask.
It happens that the two hemispheres are separated. This method is used to treat severe forms of epilepsy. Surprisingly, the dissection of adhesions between the hemispheres is not so much affect the brain as it might seem. The behavior of people after such a procedure, for the most part, does not differ from what it was before the operation, and in multitasking, they can even give odds to those who have adhesions intact.
Studying how the brain works with disconnected hemispheres helps to understand how the brain processes information and how it distributes processes occurring simultaneously. For example, we know that two hemispheres in such a disconnected brain must process all processes separately from each other. So one hemisphere doesn't know what the other is doing.
A group of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggested that a healthy brain sometimes also handles tasks separately. Although it cannot be separated in the literal sense of the word, two separate systems must operate independently of each other when solving several tasks simultaneously.
Merger and division of tasks
Scientists conducted an experiment based on the method of functional magnetic resonance imaging Functional split-brain in a driving/listening paradigm. Participants in this experiment had to perform two actions at the same time: to drive a car and listen to a speech on the radio. First, it is the usual daily activities, and therefore less likely to obtain artificial results, which sometimes occurs in the laboratory. Secondly, science already knows how the systems used for processing sound and linguistic information, as well as the systems involved in the processing of visual and motor driving processes work.
During the experiment, the participants were driving on the road with two lanes, there were no intersections and other cars on the road. The task was complicated by the fact that it was necessary to perform additional tasks. In the first ("comprehensive") portion of the drivers are heard during the drive of the user guidance like a car Navigator, which reported, when you need to change lanes. In the second ("separate") part drivers changed lanes, focusing on road signs, and listened to performances on the radio.
Since the speech in the GPS instructions and the speech on the radio sound completely different, the researchers recorded them using the same voice to complicate the task. In addition, they asked participants how difficult the tasks seemed to them and whether they felt sleepy. Thus tested their driving skills and ability to perceive information by ear.
When participants performed the "complex" part of the task, tomograms showed that the brain processes both tasks as one. But during the execution of the "separate" part of the connection between the two working systems decreased. "When the speech that the driver hears is not directly related to the driving process, the brain seems to be functionally divided into two independent systems: the driving system and the listening system," the authors of the study said.
This showed that the brain is able to simultaneously control two separate systems, as well as combine them when required. However, the results of this study, like many others based on the method of functional magnetic resonance imaging, can not be considered 100% true. The experiment involved only 13 people, and there is a risk that the recorded results are individual characteristics of the participants.
Of course, scientists have raised new questions. The brain uses other methods of information processing than those studied in this study, and it is not yet known what other systems can be combined and which can not. In addition, it is necessary to understand which subsystems are responsible for switching between the Union and the division of the two hemispheres.