Photo of Roger W. Sperry

Roger W. Sperry

  • National Medal of Science
  • Biological Sciences

For his work on neurospecificity which showed how the intricate brain networks for behavior are effected through a system of chemical coding of individual cells, which has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of human nature.

Over nearly half a century, neurobiologist Roger Sperry’s left and right brain hemispheres were working overtime.

Sperry dedicated years of his career to the study of the “split brain,” which occurs when the connection between the left and right hemispheres is severed.

Through his research, Sperry discovered the function of the corpus callosum, a part of the brain that had remained a mystery up until that point. The corpus callosum, which is made up of hundreds of millions of nerve fibers, is the part that connects the two hemispheres.

Later in his career, Sperry became an advocate for using science to solve the world’s problems, such as hunger and overpopulation. His final project before his death in 1994 was the concept of a science based on ethics and basic human values.

His ideas inspired an international conference made up of prominent scientists from across the world. The group convened several times in the early 1990s to study human values and their role in the scientific community.

By Rachel Warren