Hemispheric Brain Differences From a New Perspective

I wanted to share with my readers a memorable video by a brain researcher, Jill Bolte Taylor, who was able to use her own scientific skills to observe her experiences with a left hemisphere stroke, as it took over her mind, and as she recovered from it.

As a clinical psychologist who also likes to stay on the cutting edge, I am a big fan of TED, (technology, entertainment and design) in my opinion the most innovative group of people you can conference with. Ms. Taylor gave this gift of a lecture/video during a TED conference in the spring of 2008.

The right hemsiphere and left hemisphere have very different functions, as many of you know, and she likens the non-dominant right hemisphere to a parallel processor, concerned not only with creativity, and connections, but with the here and now.

The left hemisphere, the dominant one, she likens to a parallel processor, and it is involved with linear, methodical thinking and language. These are not new concepts, but she is able to vividly describe how they feel, as she experiences one side or the other as her stroke progressed.

Her most unique contribution was, however, was to note that the non-dominant hemisphere feels connected to the whole universe, and fails to distinguish us as separate from our surroundings. It is all about the present, and in that moment, we are all one.

The dominant hemisphere — in contrast –sees us as separate. It is focused on the past and future, and be seeing us as disconnected from our surroundings and the present, it narrows our sense of self.

Of course both sides are useful, for different kinds of tasks, but I think you may well enjoy, as much as I did, her vivid and inspiring descriptions of her stroke and recovery. I strongly recommend TED conferences to anyone who likes this video.


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