Research: The New Left and Right Brain
We all know the popular theory about left and right brain; being left brained means being more logical and structured, being right brained means being more creative and emotional. However, these theories of brain function have been debunked since they first caught the public’s imagination. There is now a different yet equally fascinating picture of how brain function is split between the different hemispheres. Dr. Iain Gilchrist, Professor of Neuropsychology at the University of Bristol has collaborated on this fascinating explanatory video of what he sees as the fundamental differences between the two hemispheres.
The new thinking
In essence, be believes that the two hemispheres have functions that can be more accurately described as follows;
Left – isolated, static, focused, de contextualised and lifeless; and
Right – interconnected, changing, relating, contextualised, and living.
The hemispheres are almost divided by the corpus callosum, apparently in order to ensure that the sides with their different functions don’t interfere too much with each other. Dr. Gilchrist also makes the point that reasoning takes both sides of the brain and imagination takes both sides of the brain.
The implications for psychotherapy are quite interesting. With scientists telling us that our brains were divided between a thinking side and an emotional side (and this view being part of popular culture) it became natural for us to see ourselves as strongly one or the other. In other words, our ‘understanding’ of brain function drew sharp lines in how we saw ourselves. “I’m this, but I’m not that”. However, this new view, whilst it might still lead to polarisation in our view of ourselves will no longer allow us to say that some of us are unemotional and others of us are unthinking. We all feel, we all think.
This new understanding will take a while to trickle into practice (and into everyday understanding). However, when it does, it will change the way we think of ourselves
– Tim Hill