Indeterminacy tolerance as a basis of hemispheric asymmetry within prefrontal cortex

Vinod Goel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is an important hemispheric distinction in the functional organization of prefrontal cortex (PFC) that has not been fully recognized and explored. Research with split-brain patients provides considerable evidence for a left hemisphere (LH) “interpreter” that abhors indeterminacy and automatically draws inferences to complete patterns (real or imaginary). It is suggested that this “interpreter” function may be a byproduct of the linguistic capabilities of the LH. This same literature initially limited the role of the right hemisphere (RH) to little more than visual organization. Recent reviews have garnered evidence for several different roles for the right PFC in reasoning, problem solving, and decision-making. We here focus on the beneficial but neglected role of indeterminacy in real-world problem solving and argue that the right PFC complements the left PFC “interpreter” by maintaining, and even enhancing indeterminacy. Successful real-world functioning is a delicate balancing act between these two systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number326
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Issue numberJune
Publication statusPublished - Jun 16 2015


  • Hemispheric asymmetry
  • Hemispheric lateralization
  • Hemispheric specialization
  • Ill-structured problems
  • Real-world problem solving
  • Reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neurology
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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