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I don't want to dismiss anyone's subjective experience, and I do realise that left brain-logical, right-brain-creative was a metaphor that seemed to fit the observable facts for a very long time.

However, I thought neuroscientists had demonstrated fairly clearly that
it's a bit more complicated than that.

What's more, I'm struggling to understand the alleged totality of Jill Bolte-Taylor's either/or situation.

Presumably, when she's in her euphoric right hemisphere state, something has got to make the rational decision to bring her back to eat?

My own subjective experience is that there's rather a lot of co-processing in the two "halves" of my brain.

Look at the picture below. In which direction is the figure turning?

See what it's supposed to say about your hemispheric bias here

In my case, the figure regularly switches between clockwise and anti-clockwise motion.  In fact, I've had it open in the preview box while typing, and I'm now feeling distinctly sick.

I think there's a clockwise bias, but as soon as I consider measuring it, it goes the other way  ;)

by Sassafras on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 07:16:48 AM EST
heh...a while back we had a long discussion here about that picture.

What is intriguing for me about her situation is that the blood clot happened in the left hemisphere, steadily knocking out its functionality so she got an extreme case of "what if there is only the right hemisphere?"  Normally there will be information moving between the two, so balance might be defined as effective communication between--across--hemispheres.

A good comparison would be if there were a self-account of the opposite: a blood clot occurring in the right brain, to compare extremes.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 07:58:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be more persuasive if interlocking accounts came from people who hadn't been exposed to the left-brain/right-brain idea.

We know that the brain makes things up when faced with a narrative gap.

Obviously, she had no way of knowing at the time that the clot was in her left hemisphere.  But we have no way of knowing that she really experienced what she thinks she did.

That's not to say I don't believe her.  I'd just rather the experience was recounted by someone whose expectations it didn't fulfill.

by Sassafras on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 08:42:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sassafras:
Obviously, she had no way of knowing at the time that the clot was in her left hemisphere.
Oh, yes, her right arm went limp.

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 08:55:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent point.  So she did know.

I'm not looking for reasons to dismiss her testimony.  Just sounding a note of caution.

by Sassafras on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 09:09:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe.

The same symptom will arise from damage to the pons, cerebellum, or upper spinal cord at the C1 - C3 areas.

Or some combination of these.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 03:53:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just to clarify that they did discover the physical cause of her symptoms:

TED | TEDBlog: Stroke of insight: Jill Bolte Taylor on TED.com

Two and a half weeks after the hemorrhage, the surgeons went in and they removed a blood clot the size of a golf ball that was pushing on my language centers.


Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 07:52:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The brain can do an awful lot of things. Could it tell the right arm to go limp ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 01:25:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Worse than that, the mind can tell the right arm to go limp.  That's what psycho-somatic illnesses are, after all.

Tho' some people claim there is a physical cause of such and we don't know enough to be able to figure it out.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 04:32:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, actually, she describes the moment when she realized she was having a stroke (when her arm went limp) in this way:

And in that moment my right arm went totally paralyzed by my side. And I realized, "Oh my gosh! I'm having a stroke! I'm having a stroke!" And the next thing my brain says to me is, "Wow! This is so cool. This is so cool. How many brain scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain from the inside out?"

And then it crosses my mind: "But I'm a very busy woman. I don't have time for a stroke!" So I'm like, "OK, I can't stop the stroke from happening so I'll do this for a week or two, and then I'll get back to my routine, OK."

She thought it was cool that she could observe her own brain as it was having a stroke. So we can give her the benefit of the doubt and believe the she was acting in the tradition of many scientists that went before who conducted experiments on themselves.

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 10:02:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It might be informative to see FMRI data corresponding to what she thinks of as hemisphere shifts.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 04:11:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JBT doesn't speak of logical vs. creative, but of sequential vs. parallel. Sequential processing requires focusing attention, and yout link from rense.com says'Right Brain' or 'Left Brain' - Myth Or Reality?
The left brain, they reckoned, focused on detail. This would make it the natural home for all those mental skills that need us to act in a series of discrete steps or fix on a particular fragment of what we perceive--skills such as recognising a friend's face in a crowd or "lining up" words to make a sentence.
 
By contrast, the right brain concentrated on the broad, background picture. The researchers believed it had a panoramic focus that made it good at seeing general connections; this hemisphere was best able to represent the relative position of objects in space and to handle the emotional and metaphorical aspects of speech. So, in a neat and complementary division of labour, one side of the brain thought and saw in wide-angle while the other zoomed in on the detail.
So, no contradiction there.

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 08:31:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but if you read all the way to the end, it also refers to instances where the "wrong" bit of the brain lights up.

Like I said, it's a bit more complicated.

It would be really interesting to know how those cognitive tests would work out with JBT in the scanner...now, and at the time of maximum damage.

by Sassafras on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 08:55:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, I see it turning clockwise.  She is going backwards, very natural.  (Counterclockwise would be forward right?)  So I am using the "right" (parallel processing) brain.  

So I am reading the article, to see what it says about all this, and she SWITCHES DIRECTION.  According to the article, I am now "left brain" oriented.  (She is STILL going backward though; somehow her body has done a mirror reversal.)

I quit reading.  She switches again, returning to clockwise.  Supposedly I am (again) "right brain."  

It is as though they have got it right.  Very curious.  But why should the different brains have different preferred directions?  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 01:11:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Aha! I just found a way to make the perceived direction switch (for me) -- shift gaze to place the image far into peripheral vision, reach for a perception of the resulting blur as oscillation in a plane, then reversed rotation, then gaze directly again. ("Reach for a perception"?) I can't switch my perception while gazing directly, at least not in a short time.

Your experience while typing with the image peripherally visible sounds similar.

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 04:26:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fun thing is to get her to sway back and forth without turning her back on you.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 07:42:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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