Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Teeter Totter of our Brains, an introduction

[This is the beginning Summary of my writings on how our brains have created our culture and view of the world. I will tell my version of this story over the next few days with progressive posts. This is just a beginning. If this theory has any validity, it should change how we see and experience our world.]

The Teeter Totter of our Brains
How Left v. Right Brain Dominance has Created our World

We have two hemispheres in the front part of our brains, the left and the right.  They think differently, meaning they function differently. You might have learned that one side does some activities like the left brain does language and the right brain does drawing.  The newest research shifts this idea from what they do to how they do it.  Both sides work and contribute on all major activities; however they do it in very different ways.

The Right Hemisphere tends to think in an “all at one time” fashion.  It takes the bigger view.  That is why it takes the lead on visio-spatial challenges and on input external from us.  It is also the learning center.  It learns new processes and tends to be open to new ideas.  It tends to experience time all at once and space as all inclusive.

The Left Hemisphere tends to think in a “one at a time” fashion.  It is takes a more focused view.  This is the reason it excels at the intricacies of language, logic and mathematics.  It focuses on internal information and the abstract.  It perfects processes after the right brain initially learns them. It tends to stick to an idea or a way of doing things rather than be open to the new.  It tends to experience time as rigidly sequential and space as finite.

Birds and Mammals have this frontal lobe split, also called the bicameral brain.  The left brain operates the right side of the body (i.e., hand, foot, eye, and ear).  The right brain operates the left side of the body.  In a bird, the eyes move separately controlled by the opposite side of the brain.  The right eye guided by the left brain focuses on the chore at hand such as catching that worm.  It concentrates on what it is to eat.  At the same time, the left eye guided by the right brain is focused on world and environment around the bird.  It is the lookout making sure that the bird is not about to be eaten.  This is an example of how the two sides of the brain function.

The right brain is older and evolved first. Through the primitive era, our right brains tended to be slightly dominant over the left brain. As we developed spoken language, tools and agriculture, the left brain developed (or it was the other way around).  Written language, especially those with a symbolic alphabet rather than pictographs, amplified the left brain.  It rose to match the right brain. For a moment, the two hemispheres were balanced.  This balance created the Golden Age of Greece, the explosion of thought and ideas.  The left side continued to develop past the right becoming slightly dominant which led to the rules and order of the Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire declined after centuries and with it the dominance of the left brain.  It is hard to know what caused this reversal. It seems that it was a decline in the left brain function rather than a rise in the right. It could have been a decline in literacy, the rise of Catholicism or just exhaustion.  The decline in the left brain dominance plunged us into the dark ages.  The rise out of the dark and into the medieval period took centuries.  The Medieval era was right brain dominant with a strong, developing left brain.

The development of regional languages, the rise of literacy and the invention of the printing press fed the left brain.  It once again rose to match the right brain in another explosion of ideas and inventions.  We call it the Renaissance, or in England, the Elizabethan Era.  When the two hemispheres are balanced, it seems to make an age that is called Golden. 

The left brain continued to surge surpassing the right on the four century march to the Modern Era.  Between the 1600s and turn of the millennium, the left brain and left brain thinking has been dominant.  It has been a great time of discovery and invention. 

Beginning in the late 19th Century, the right brain began to surge.  The painters (Impressionist to the Moderns) and the physicist (Einstein and into the Quantum Physicists) began to suggest that our world worked differently than the Classical artists and physicists had said.  The invention of the typewriter using two hands, the photograph, the phonograph, motion pictures, the computer and the internet have helped to develop the right brain, or were invented due to the rise in the right brain.

The twentieth century and especially the last twenty years have seen an exponential rise in our right brains.  For the first time in history our right brains are ascending to match our left brains.  This is new, exciting and scary.  When the two hemispheres match in strength and dominance, huge discoveries occur.  We are in this time.  The challenge is how we live in the two sides of our brain; how can we keep them balanced and producing.  Can we live in the two contrasting and opposite worlds the two sides of our brain present to us?  The current cultural, political and religious divide can be sourced back to the conflict between the two ways of experiencing our world.

What will happen next?  Will our right brains continue to ascend bringing us into a right brain centric age? What will that look like?  Will it be another Dark Ages?  Will the left brain reclaim the lead with all of its benefits and failings? Or, will the two sides be able to remain relatively balanced?

Our brains generate our culture and civilization.  They make our existence. What life are we creating?

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