View Full Version : Braininess
February 19th, 2006, 10:32 AM
By now, everyone has encountered the left brain versus right brain argument that the hemispheres, of the brain are responsible for different manners of thinking. According to this wisdom, ye olde left brain is logical, sequential, rational, analytical, objective. Lefties like to examine the parts of things. Ye right brained thinkers, OTOH, are random, intuitive, holistic, synthesizing, subjective. They prefer to look at the whole thing rather than its parts. [Could this explain why some of us have trouble follwing directions when asembling mechanical objects?]
On a web site this morning, I found this interesting claim: “Most individuals have a distinct preference for one of these styles of thinking. Some, however, are more whole-brained and equally adept at both modes.”
A close relative summarized a discussion we were having by asserting that my point was to be expected as it indicated a left brained approach to the problem, the problem, of course, was right brained in nature and the logical conclusion could be that my approach was typical, expected, neither right nor wrong, merely irrelevant.
It did get to me wondering, though. Are authors left, right, or somewhere in the middle?
February 19th, 2006, 11:53 AM
I found a brain dominance test if you'd like to find out.
my results: Predominately left, but in many tests I've taken, I usually end up straight up the middle with 51% left and 49% right. Not sure why this one turned out differently. Is was close, but not as close as many I've taken.
Another test a creative writing teacher had us do. With one of your hands, make a circle. The through that circle, sight an object by closing one eye and looking through that circle. Everyone in the class, but me, had closed the eye that corosponded to the hand they'd made the circle with. I used my left eye and my right hand. This has always lead me to believe that I'm a 'whole' brain kinda guy.
I'll see if I can find some other tests as this one didn't have very many questions and many of my answers would have been either both (I'm equally good at Algebra AND geometry and I don't care which side of the theater I sit on) or I would have answered differently than what they gave.
February 19th, 2006, 01:44 PM
Well yes, but it may just mean that you're right-handed and right-eyed, Maus. I'm left-handed and my optometrist informed me long ago that I was right-eyed. I didn't know that there was an eye preference, but apparently there is. I would make a circle with my left hand and use my right eye, closing the left one.
They've found, also, that left-handed people tend to have functions somewhat more balanced between the right and left hemispheres and in the connective tissue between them. A left-handed person may retain more function after a particular brain injury than a right-handed person would. Also, many artists of various kinds are found to be left-handed. So being a right-brained person is not a requirement for artistic ability.
But really, it seems to be more complicated than that. We all use both right and left-side abilities and on a regular basis. Malcolm Gladwell's latest pop science book, "Blink," is all about our use of intuitive, subconscious analysis -- right brain stuff. Scientists, who you would expect to be very logical, analytical, left-brain folk, do a lot of their work with right brain thinking. For instance, the well documented a-ha experience, where a scientist works and works on a problem, takes a bubble-bath and suddenly the solution simply comes to him. This can happen to other people working on non-scientific and artistic problems as well. Most of the time, our right and left brains are working together.
This is particularly true, I think, with writing and fiction writing. The right brain comes up with ideas, images and emotions, and the left brain analyses, selects, edits and refines that material. Someone who is very right-brain -- very visual and intuitive -- may be more likely to approach writing as like doing a film, visualizing things in his head. Whereas someone who is more left-brained may be more auditory, hearing the words in their head and how they sound more than visualizing. But written fiction is definitely an action that requires both hemispheres and balance between them.
February 20th, 2006, 05:50 AM
Well I don't know about other people, but I have found when I take those kind of tests that I am almost always right at 50-50 or 49-51, and I agree that it helps to be more centered when it comes to writing.
February 20th, 2006, 06:11 PM
my results: I answered 9 right brained and 9 left brained. I am completely balanced according to that test. My husband tells me that is not possible, I am definately unbalanced!!
February 21st, 2006, 01:38 AM
I can't trust those kinds of tests because when I take them I figure out what the test writers are looking for, and customize my answers to get the results I want. It's hard not to do that. (Once in college I took a personality test as "psychotic"--I thought it would be funny. I don't think that poor counselor ever figured out what happened. He truly believed the test was "fool proof.")
on maus' test, I wrote with my right finger and looked with my left eye.
I never really think of myself as being either right brained or left brained. It's kind of a generalization for a reality which I believe is much more complicated. The software of your mind is written in your first few months and tends to be somewhat haphazard.
It was kind of interesting when I found out my wife thinks in words. I think in concepts, kind of. I tried thinking in words for a while. It gave me a headache.
February 21st, 2006, 07:30 AM
I'm on B5's side. I believe that decision patterns can be established over time by looking at results and deciding what kind of thinking must have been involved. That's just good statistics and statistics are, on the average, good for something, I'm certain. Maybe it's like comparing entry and exit polls. Respondents answer in the first part what they dream they'll do and in the second part what they think they did. Sort of like the exit polls that showed the party of the second part was getting strong but insufficent support only to learn that party won in a landslide.
But, what kind of thinking makes the best writing? Can only folk in touch with their holistic, synthesizing, and subjective natures produce prose worth reading? Or is that poetry worth reading? Can there be good prose that is logical, analytical, and objective? Is there a prejudice out there that says creative writing exists only in the right brain thinkers among us?
If so, I'm agin it. I offer into evidence Robert P. Crease's The Prism and the Pendulum, Random House, 2003. Is there anyone who watches a Foucault pendulum not moved by the beauty of the earth moving beneath its sway? I saw my experience in Santa Barbara,CA in 1957 and have never lost the majesty of the moments I spent watching the point prove me and the earth were rotating beneath it.
February 25th, 2006, 06:35 PM
I came out of that test left-brained and annoyed by the spelling mistakes. I don't think anyone has accused me of a lack of creativity... a lack of a grasp on reality maybe. Is my prose worth reading? Well, the spelling is good and there's generally something a little bizarre going on.
Prior to 1957 you didn't believe the planet was moving?
February 26th, 2006, 06:21 AM
For the first 13 years of my life, I believed it was moving; my science book told me so and I never argued with my science book. I was a good little student who accepted with absolute faith the things my teachers told me.
I began to discover that some of the things I was being taught couldn't possibly be true so I began to grasp the concept of skepticism.
The pendulum was one of the experiences where I could finally see what I had up till then had only read about. The next year I took chemistry and physics in high school and I got to re-live the experience of experiment confirming conjecture.
Never been much of a math person, so mathematical proofs are much like religious prrofs to me. People believe them and they seem to work okay for those that do - including the engineers who keep building neat stuff - but I retain a little skepticism. Perfectly willing to work with liquid crystal displays and this keyboard and the GPS in people's cars. I'll even fly on an airplane some fool pilot is willing to take off the ground. But, at the gut level, I don't feel the truth of any of it. Doesn't bother me cause I no longer expect to understand everything; am content with reading other people's explanations and watching how those explanations change over time. For example, go back and read Isaac Asimov's fact articles from the 50s and 60s and see how much has changed. He wasn't wrong; explanations just improved/evolved/mutated.
Must be fun home schooling your issue, watching them discover for themselves how the things in your refrigerator match or don't match the things in their text books.
February 26th, 2006, 08:00 PM
Er... that's a general "you"? I'm totally against homeschooling. I do get to teach conspiracy theories and point out satiristical opportunities to children as part of my job tho so I get to see watch a lot of surface scraping and discovery anyway. But scientific predictions, which I also get to teach, generally turn out pretty accurate.
For instance, the laws of gravity change at a molecular level... something no one blames Newton for not knowing but that means that the laws of gravity are flexible. Time is relative, gravity is flexible, somewhere someone is growing giant chimpanzees for organ harvesting. Science is not governed by laws, they're more like guidelines, really.
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