Sunday, March 20, 2011
Quite often I’ve been asked, “What’s this whole thing about “Right-brain vs. Left-brain. I thought this article by Dan Eden offered some rather interesting insight. I’m not suggesting that what Dan says is fact, but he sure does get both sides of my brain thinking.
Many people may not realize -- each of us is really two people. No, I don't mean in the traditional sense of having an alter-ego, or a good and bad side. Nor do I mean that we are all schizoids. I mean we are literally two thinking beings residing in the same body.
Although you and I have one brain, each half of it has the ability to act independently at the same time.
Like the infomercials say -- "Wait! There's more!"
Follow along on this adventure. I won't disappoint either of you!
About ten years ago, I saw an interesting exercise in which a college psychology professor had taken photographs of her students, made copies that were flipped left to right, and then had them cut in half vertically. She reassembled the images using the two similar sides of the face.
Which Nixon would You buy a used car from?
Nixon's left+left at the far left.
The center image is the normal, original portrait.
Nixon's right+right is on the right.
[A quick way to do this is to place a small mirror perpendicular to a photograph showing a good front face view. As you look into the mirror you can form a whole face from the reflection of either side.]
The composite pictures were humorous. Although the individuals were easily recognizable, their facial expressions seemed to express exaggerated emotions, like anger, suspicion, or happiness -- and occasionally a look of total blankness. Even more interesting was the observation that the two sides of the same face were often so different. Why?
This exercise seemed to suggest that, while a handful of people have symmetrical faces, a vast majority of us do not. Also it raised the possibility that each side of our face could express different emotions at the same time! Subsequent research into facial expressions and the workings of the human brain has offered an interesting theory that not only explains this left and right difference in facial expressions, but could help us to understand our "other self."
First, some science.
We'll keep this light and uncomplicated. Our brain, like the rest of our anatomy, is made up of two halves, a left brain a right brain. There's a big fold that goes from front to back in our brain, essentially dividing it into two distinct and separate parts. Well, almost separate. They are connected to each other by a thick cable of nerves at the base of each brain. This sole link between the two giant processors is called the corpus collosum. Think of it as an Ethernet cable or network connection between two incredibly fast and immensely powerful computer processors, each running different programs from the same input.
The left side of our body is "wired" to the right side of our brain, and vice versa. For whatever reason nature did this cross-over, it applies even to our eyes, which process a majority of their sensory data on opposite sides of the brain.
We can thank Nobel Prize Winner (1981) Roger Sperry for this next contribution. Sperry conducted what are sometimes called the "split-brain" experiments. Here's how it went: A patient suffering from uncontrolled seizures had an area of his brain removed by surgery in an attempt to control his illness. This area just happened to be the corpus collosum, which was suspected of having developed lesions (short circuits).
Following his surgery, Sperry's patient seemed completely normal -- almost. A series of tests were conducted where each "half" of the patient was isolated from the other. Different visual and tactile information could then be presented to the patient's left or right side, without the other side knowing. The results were astounding.
With their communications link severed, each side of the patient's brain was functioning independently. Although this did not prevent his ability to walk, talk and eat, some unexpected findings were encountered in some of the higher brain functions when each side was examined independently of the other.
The right hand and eye could name an object, such as a pencil, but the patient could not explain what it was used for. When shown to the left hand and eye, the patient could explain and demonstrate its use, but could not name it. Further studies showed that various functions of thought are physically separated and localized to a specific area on either the left or right side of the human brain. This functional map is consistent for an estimated 70 to 95 percent of us.
The main theme to emerge... is that there appear to be two modes of thinking, verbal and nonverbal, represented rather separately in left and right hemispheres respectively and that our education system, as well as science in general, tends to neglect the nonverbal form of intellect. What it comes down to is that modern society discriminates against the right hemisphere.
-Roger Sperry (1973)
Upon completing the map, it was becoming clear to researchers that each side of the brain had a characteristic way that it both interpreted the world and reacted to it. The chart below will help illustrate the characteristics which are known to reside on each side of our brains.
LEFT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
words and language
present and past
math and science
knows object name
RIGHT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
"big picture" oriented
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can "get it" (i.e. meaning)
knows object function
Our personality can be thought of as a result of the degree to which these left and right brains interact, or, in some cases, do not interact. It is a simplification to identify "left brain" types who are very analytical and orderly. We likewise certainly know of the artistic, unpredictability and creativity of "right brain" types. But each of us draws upon specific sides of our brain for a variety of daily functions, depending on such things as our age, education and life experiences. The choices of which brain is in control of which situations is what forges our personalities and determines our character.
Experiments show that most children rank highly creative (right brain) before entering school. Because our educational systems place a higher value on left brain skills such as mathematics, logic and language than it does on drawing or using our imagination, only ten percent of these same children will rank highly creative by age 7. By the time we are adults, high creativity remains in only 2 percent of the population.
The Brain and Intelligence
There is a known correlation between brain size and intellectual ability. Homo Erectus, our distant ancestor, had a brain size of about 1200 cc. Modern Homo Sapiens have an average brain of about 1400 cc. Oddly, the Neanderthal people who failed to evolve into humans already had a brain size of 1500 cc -- larger than modern man. Obviously then, its not only how big the brain is as much as how it is configured. This is further evidenced by the fact that we have known genius brains measuring as small as 1000 cc. and as large as 2000 cc.
Increasing brain size was a risky endeavor for human evolution. The brain requires a highly stable temperature and a supply of high protein and energy. One quarter of our caloric intake is used for brain energy consumption.
The War of the Brains
The two brains not only see the world in vastly different ways but, in our current society, the left side just "doesn't get" what the right side is all about. It tends to dismiss anything significant coming into consciousness from its "flaky" cranial twin. Sometimes two sides can actually disagree, resulting in our perception of emotional turmoil from the expressive protests of right brain.
Our conscious mind can only focus on data from one brain at a time. We can switch from one side to the other very quickly (with our corpus collosum intact) but that's not always the most efficient way to act and eventually ultimate authority to enter consciousness is delegated to one brain or the other. In our modern world, this battle is almost always won by the left brain.
It appears that most people will never reach their maximum potential because of compromises that have been made between these two governing bodies. Sometimes skills which the right brain can perform better are routinely handled, with less skill, by the left brain. Ideally, both brains work together in people with optimum mental ability. This coordinating ability may be the key to superior intellectual abilities. In most people, however, the left brain takes control, choosing logic, reasoning and details over imagination, holistic thinking and artistic talent.
Methods have been devised to "shut off" the left brain, allowing the right side to have its say. Creative writing courses often use this method to combat "writer's block." The logical left side is easily bored by lack of input and tends to "doze off" during such activities as meditation (repeating a mantra or word over and over) or in sensory deprivation environments. The right brain is then able to "sneak" into our consciousness, filling our minds with emotional and visual vignettes and freely associated images. All too quickly, though, the left brain will assert itself and dispense with these irrational images, asserting its Spock-like logical dominance and the right brain will have to be content to find expression in dreams.
Facial expressions are nothing more than skin and muscle being pulled or flexed according to the control of the brain. Our facial nerves effectively divide our face into two separate sides, each controlled by the opposite side brain. Facial expressions are the earliest form of communication. Experiments conducted on all ages and cultures around the globe have revealed that there is universal agreement to some basic emotional facial gestures. Take a moment to see how well you can determine the emotional content of these selected expressions.
Look at the facial expressions depicted above.
Write the corresponding letter that represents your interpretation of
each of the following emotions:
HAPPY, DISGUST, CONCERNED, SURPRISED,
SUSPICIOUS, SAD, HORRIFIED, ANGRY.
How did you do? Most people will get a high score, although the subtle differences between horror and surprise can cause for some confusion.
I thought it was interesting to note that an emotion like suspicion appears to be composed of two emotions: the left logical brain shows anger while the right side shows sadness. Clearly there is room for much more research into our feelings and expressions. While we await the next detailed map (left brain) of our inner self, we can freely speculate on the meanings (right brain) that we impart from our observations.
Now that (hopefully) you are confident about your innate ability to "read" emotions, let's turn our attention to the bicameral images. Let's use this understanding of left and right brain traits to examine some known personalities. While looking at this gallery of faces, ask yourself which side appears to dominate? -- which emotions seem to be expressed by each side? -- what's your gut reaction to each facial expression? In some cases, two opposite personalities will be evident while in others (Princess Diana, for example) there seems to be a more uniform and symmetric look.
If you'd like to submit a photo of a public figure or politician for us to show, please send scans on either jpeg or gif formats to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you view these pictures, remember that the images on your far leftrepresent the left brain, which, as described earlier, is usually the dominant side.
What your finger lengths can predict about you and others...
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This article shows you how to "read" the eyes of your lover, boss or politician. It's the same tried and tested method used by Homeland Security, the police and FBI.
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in these free viewzone lessons by a professional!
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. Exactly how do they match them so quickly?
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As you view these pictures, remember that the images on your far left represent the left brain, which, as described earlier, is usually the dominant side.
New images for 2006:
President George W. Bush
Saddham Hussein circa 1992
Young (14 yrs old) Saddham Hueesin
(including Barak Obama etc.)
I'm not foolish enough to speculate on what can be seen in these portraits. I'm sure someone would raise an eyebrow (left or right?) and either call me names (right brain) or give me a detailed list (left brain) of my errors.
Writing this article has demanded the cooperative efforts of both left and right brains of Dan Eden. Although I am left-handed, I discovered that this has little bearing on my left or right side domination. A vast majority of us "sinister" people have the same left brain domination as the right handers. Creativity and hand preference is another myth. Nevertheless, my right brain has had to work with its counterpart, feeding ideas and images that the left brain will methodically translate into correct verbiage and grammar. And your two brains are right now performing the same operations in reverse order.
Evolution has already experimented with larger brains (the Neanderthals) and found that the increased demands for nutrition and temperature control were not worthy of the effort. Increasing our mental abilities now appears to rest in a method of coordinating the two sides, so that logic and intuition, reason and imagination, and science and philosophy can both play a part in the future of our species.
Is Your Left Hand More Motivated Than Your Right Hand?
According to reports in ScienceDaily, motivation doesn't have to be conscious; your brain can decide how much it wants something without input from your conscious mind. Now a new study shows that both halves of your brain don't even have to agree. Motivation can happen in one side of the brain at a time.
Psychologists used to think that motivation was a conscious process. You know you want something, so you try to get it. But a few years ago, Mathias Pessiglione, of the Brain & Spine Institute in Paris, and his colleagues showed that motivation could be subconscious; when people saw subliminal pictures of a reward, even if they didn't know what they'd seen, they would try harder for a bigger reward. In the earlier study, volunteers were shown pictures of either a one-euro coin or a one-cent coin for a tiny fraction of a second. Then they were told to squeeze a pressure-sensing handgrip; the harder they squeezed it, the more of the coin they would get. The image was subliminal, so volunteers didn't know how big a coin they were squeezing for, but they would still squeeze harder for one euro than one cent. That result showed that motivation didn't have to be conscious.
For the new study, in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Pessiglione and his colleagues Liane Schmidt, Stefano Palminteri, and Gilles Lafargue wanted to know if they could dig even farther down and show that one side of the brain could be motivated at a time. The test started with having the subject focus on a cross in the middle of the computer screen. Then the motivational coin -- one euro or one cent -- was shown on one side of the visual field. People were only subliminally motivated when the coin appeared on the same side of the visual field as the squeezing hand. For example, if the coin was on the right and they were squeezing with the right hand, they would squeeze harder for a euro than for a cent. But if the subliminal coin appeared on the left and they were squeezing on the right, they wouldn't squeeze any harder for a euro.
The research shows that it's possible for only one side of the brain, and thus one side of the body, to be motivated at a time, says Pessiglione. "It changes the conception we have about motivation. It's a weird idea, that your left hand, for instance, could be more motivated than your right hand." He says this basic research helps scientists understand how the two sides of the brain get along to drive our behavior.
Well....you get the idea. If you’d like to look into this a little deeper, you can follow these links. Have fun. Jake.
(including Barak Obama etc.)