Royal Society Publishing

Roger Wolcott Sperry. 20 August 1913—17 April 1994

T. J. Voneida

Elected For.Mem.R.S. 1976

Abstract

‘Where does behaviour come from? What is the purpose of consciousness?’ Questions such as these, which appeared on the first page of Sperry's class notes in a freshman psychology course at Oberlin College, represent an accurate preview of a career that included major contributions to fundamental issues in neurobiology, psychology and philosophy. Indeed, his first paper, published in the Journal of General Psychology in 1939, entitled ‘Action current study in movement coordination’ (1)*, begins: ‘The objective psychologist, hoping to get at the physiological side of behavior, is apt to plunge immediately into neurology trying to correlate brain activity with modes of experience’, and continues, setting the stage for much that was to follow: ‘The result in many cases only accentuates the gap between the total experience as studied by the psychologist and neural activity as analyzed by the neurologist.’

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