CCST9033 Science, Technology and Big Data
Left Brain, Right Brain: Science and Myth

This course is under the thematic cluster(s) of:

  • Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth (SCCE)

Course Description

The human brain is made up of about 100 billion neurons, and contains trillions of connections between cells. Somehow, activity of these neurons results in “consciousness”, and gives us our memories, abilities, creativity, and dreams. In this course, we will focus on how the brain controls some of the processes that we think of as making us human, such as language, memory, musical ability, learning, emotion, and so forth, and, in particular, whether there are differences between the two cerebral hemispheres, known colloquially as the “left brain” and the “right brain”. For each topic we will look at the way these abilities are instantiated in the brains of all of us, and also at what differences there might be in, say, musical processing between a skilled violinist and a complete novice. In addition, we will also look at fascinating case studies of people who have suffered brain damage and then lost some aspects of their conscious experience. Our aim is to critically evaluate claims about differences in function between the left brain and the right brain, for example in terms of “right brain learning”.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe and explain, in general and non-technical terms, the general principles that govern neural function and hemispheric specialization in the human brain.
  2. Critically evaluate the nature of brain organization that underlies different human abilities (e.g. seeing, language, creativity).
  3. Effectively communicate and collaborate with teammates in developing a term project that critically evaluates the link between cerebral laterality and domains of human expression.
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of the general principles by which the scientific method can be used to evaluate complex, ill-defined problems.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 12
Reading / Self-study 24
Group project 24
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 24
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 12
Assessment: In-class test (incl preparation) 12
Total: 132

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Group project 35
Mini-experiment 10
Participation in tutorial discussions 15
Quizzes 40

Required Reading

Selected news and journal articles.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr J.H.W. Hsiao
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 4874
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr J.H.W. Hsiao
Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences
Tel: 3917 4874