Posts Tagged brain hemispheres

Can you disagree with yourself?

The brain

The different areas of this brain couldn't agree on a colour scheme.

In 1977 Joseph LeDoux and colleagues conducted an interesting experiment on a boy whose left and right brain hemispheres had been surgically separated. They set up a system in which they could ask questions to the separate halves of his brain. Because the left hemisphere controls many aspects of speech, the right brain had to spell out its answers using Scrabble tiles.  [LeDoux, J.E., Wilson, D.H. & Gazzaniga, M.S. (1977) A divided mind: Observations on the conscious properties of the separated hemispheres. Annals of Neurology, 2(5) 417-421.]

One of the questions they asked was about what job he would like. The left brain said ‘draftsman’ but the right brain spelled out ‘automobile race’. Because the left brain controls language, it gets to articulate its choices, but the right brain may have other ideas.

The left brain is often associated with linear reasoning, structure and detail and the right brain with holistic reasoning,  emotional tone and the big picture – although the real situation is more complex. Apparently, the picture of the spinning dancer below can tell you if you naturally favour your right or left brain. If she appears to be spinning anti-clockwise, you’re a left-brainer, clockwise and you’re a right-brainer. If you think this test is a bit simplistic — that’s a no-brainer. Actually, If this test tells you anything, it may only be which half of your brain you favour at a particular moment for certain types of visual processing and perception, but that may not be true for other functions, or it may be nothing to do with left-right brain differences.

Another more recent set of studies did not involve sliced brains but a more subtle manipulation of social identities in order to produce an internal conflict of opinions.

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