Monday, July 7, 2008

TED Video on Right/Left Brain

There is an amazing video by Jill Bolte Taylor, ( a Harvard-trained and published neuroanatomist who teaches at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Bloomington, IN. Dr. Taylor witnessed and then recorded her experience of undergoing a stroke. As a brain scientist, she has incredible insight. She discusses the differences between the left and right brains.

Dr. Taylor describes the right brain's organization as a parallel processor ... that is, it has it's pulse on all the senses, but has no structure to make sense of the input it receives. For example, she talks about hearing "wah, wah-wah, wah-wah", rather than "Hi, my name is Joe". Another example, she had difficulty distinguishing numbers on paper. She couldn't discriminate figure/ground.

She described the left brain as a serial processor (a typical computer) that is able to analyze, organize and communicate. She says that the left brain has the sense of self (ego?) whereas the right brain is cosmic / in touch with energy. This is all very interesting, quite fantastic, and depending on your religion and training, may make a lot of sense. It did for me.

I wonder if autism doesn't have some sort of right/left brain connection .... I've seen a number of children without verbal skills who struggle with reality and appear to be content in their inner world of songs, touch, lights, and spinnng (right brain with left brain missing). And then there is true Asperger's Syndrome, which seems to be all left brain.

Dr. Taylor has a book, "My Stroke of Insight", that covers this same ground in depth.

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