kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

Left- or right-brained, is either really better?

THINK HOLISTICALLY: The truth is, we use all parts of the organ all day, every day

SOME people say that we are two-brained and either one is you, even if the chambers light up in its entirety when scientists probe into our workings upstairs. You are left-brained, you are right-brained, you have to nudge at the core of creativity, some say.

Are our brains so divided that we are either left or right, isolated in the confines of our room all day long, practising our craft, without caring about the light coming in from the window? Hey, there's an old man upstairs who's learned in these matters, shall we climb the stairs to that other part to say hello? Listening to the Left Brain-Right Brain advocates, we are alone in the room, as far as our particular proclivities are. You are either creative or you are logical.

So what do we do? Think logically with the left side of the brain, think more creatively with the other. Give the left side of your brain a whack is the title of a book I now have on the table; and then there are exercises that you follow and do diligently to increase your brain power, sudoku and crossword puzzles and pawns and bishops, too.

The trouble is, if you exercise your mind on only one particular thing, say at solving crossword puzzles, then that's what you will be good at: solving crossword puzzles.

Take a look at how our brain processes language. You hear a word and your brain takes it through a whole complex network of filters. It looks at what is meant by it, it looks at other words that looks like it, it looks at a host of other things that define the word and distinguishes it so in the general scheme of your reality.

It was once thought that words belong to two regions, known as Broca's and Wernicke's, that are connected by two white matter pathways, the upper and the lower. Are they simply connections? The latest discovery says no, they have roles, too, in processing words that come to mind. Damage to the lower connection affects your ability to name things or to give meanings to words, but surprisingly, you will still be able to construct sentences. If the upper connection is damaged, you know words and meanings but have difficulties understanding a complex sentence.

I mention this because the left hemisphere and the right are connected by a bridge called the corpus callosum, which, in many reported cases, have been severed. You would have thought that this cutting of the links would not affect the left-brainer or the right-brainer, as popular belief says that we are one or the other.

Our brains, for a start, work simultaneously. Scans of people reading have shown that they use the entire brain, no one particular part is active throughout. And this brings us back to how we understand a word: we refer the word to various areas of our brain to classify it, to search for its meaning, to look for its opposites and so on.

If either part of our brain hemisphere is damaged, we have different responses to stimuli. In seeing, the left brain analyses details, the right brain looks at the whole shape. There is evidence that we cannot think as clearly and as logically if our ability to think emotionally is impaired, and I would venture to say that it would be so, too, when the flow -- or the lack of it -- is from the other way.

Thinking of our brain holistically does take our mind to other thoughts, doesn't it? You'll probably have read those plugs by people who are trying to sell you books that will turn you into Leonardo Da Vinci: that we leave a large chunk of our brain parts unused, lying there somewhere in the darkness of your attic and waiting to be taken out for a walk in the light of day. The truth is, we use all parts of our brains all day, every day.

It is how you use it that matters.

When you are doing a task, think of the kelip-kelip, and a tree full of them, fireflies. There are fireflies that flash and switch off simultaneously (as on our Selangor River) and there are those that flash together, but to individual rhythms. Think the latter.

Hemisphericity has a deep hold in our education system, thanks to the prevalence of this left-right brain thinking. In creative writing -- so called -- its hold is even greater. Perhaps this is because we always look at writing as a creative activity, whilst forgetting that constructing a sentence can be intensely analytical. An engineer can write as well as a painter, too.

Your brain acts in symmetry, not exclusively in one particular area. The more parts you use while doing a task, the better the quality of your labour. Which is why, I think, it is better not to multitask, but focus. Multitasking shuts off parts just as they are performing symmetrically, when you switch to another. It is better to think with all your given parts, and let them work all together.

Wan A. Hulaimi is based in the UK NST Opinion Columnist 16/03/2014
Tags: brain

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