Mind to Market

Monday, April 14, 2008

Right Brain, Left Brain Thinking

For those of you who may be interested in an anatomical explanation of linear thinking there is an excellent video on the TED Web site of a recent talk given by neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. Not only has Dr. Taylor studied the brain in great detail but she also had the (mis) fortune to observe her own stroke first hand.

The brain, as Dr. Taylor shows us, is composed of two almost completely separated hemispheres. The analogy she makes is that the right hemisphere functions as a parallel processor and the left a serial processor. The right hemisphere operates in the present moment, thinks in pictures and processes sensory inputs.

The left hemisphere, the serial processor, is the half responsible for linear thinking. This part of the brain picks out details from the information streaming into the brain and categorizes and organizes it. It separates time into past and future. It thinks in language and is responsible for our ego.

Dr. Taylor's stroke occurred in the left hemisphere of her brain. Gradually, as the stroke progressed, she lost more and more of her left brain functionality and existed solely in a right brain world, a world where her language skills were lost, where her ability to carry out simple functions like dialing a phone were seriously impaired but a world where as her ego melted away she felt more connected to the world around her.

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