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European Tribune - Jill Bolte Taylor's Stroke of Insight

She makes an intriguing (for me) statement at the end:

So who are we? We are the life force power of the universe, with manual dexterity and two cognitive minds. And we have the power to choose, moment by moment, who and how we want to be in the world. Right here right now, I can step into the consciousness of my right hemisphere where we are -- I am -- the life force power of the universe, and the life force power of the 50 trillion beautiful molecular geniuses that make up my form. At one with all that is. Or I can choose to step into the consciousness of my left hemisphere. where I become a single individual, a solid, separate from the flow, separate from you. I am Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, intellectual, neuroanatomist. These are the "we" inside of me.
My emphases--because as I read it she means that following her experiences she can now switch hemispheres at will.

Maybe I'm reading her wrong.

That's what I would like to know, too. Is she being metaphorical or literal, here?

Of course, if she spent 8 years of her life rebuilding her left hemisphere, she might have just acquired that ability.

What I find intriguing about all this is the possibility (none of this is implied by JBT: it's my own guesses) that

  1. this is what meditation is about: learning to quieten the "inner chatter" in your brain as a way to temporarily wind down the left hemisphere;
  2. this is what psychotropic substances such as LSD are all about

Note that for a few hours from the start of her stroke she was still conscious, aware of herself and of her surroundings, but in an altered state of consciousness. In a way, whatever she experienced in that state was real - same sensory input, different mental construction. This is not the same as being asleep or unconscious where presumably sensory inputs are cut off. As an analogy, if you close your eyes you can probably see patterns even though there is no external stimulus the visual cortex (includes the retina) still produces perception. This is quite different from altered perceptions of stimuli. Unfortunately, we have only one word, phosphenes to describe both nonvisual stimulation of the retina and random viring of visual cortex neurons, and this doesn't cover what one could call "altered states of vision".

So, this brings up the question of what is the nature of reality.

All very Kantian, IMHO (see also my comment in a parallel thread about time and space as external a-priori forms).

It'd be nice if the battle were only against the right wingers, not half of the left on top of that — François in Paris

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 05:03:42 PM EST

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