Sunday, November 11, 2012

Right Side of Brain Creative and Left Side Editor? Give One or the Other a Break

Image by Bernard Goldbach
Creatives work with the right side of their brain and the more analytical minded just with the left?
The illustration created by Bernard Goldbach suggests the left side is merely dull, the right blasting with colors and creative force. But how clear cut is the difference between the right and left hemisphere really, and can we make do without one side or the other?

In her post "Our Storytelling Minds: Do We Ever Really Know What's Going On Inside?" Maria Konnikova introduces us to severance of corpus collosum —not the feared lobotomy— and the effects on the functioning of the human brain. Amazing stuff, check it out.

I haven't suffered brain damage, but Konnikova's post made me think of my personal experiences with left and right brain functioning. In 2001 my right arm froze, from the tips of my fingers to my shoulder. This was a painful affair, in many ways. I had just finished stretching four large canvases, and started the under painting on  a trio of vertical panels, and a singular nearly square one, when my right arm and hand went on strike.

Imagine an artist carrying her arm around supported by a pillow in a sling, muttering thanks for so many years of faithful surface, crying out her regrets.

"Overextended," was my physical therapist's verdict. Between stretching canvases, writing by hand, pruning fruit trees, gardening, driving, riding a bicycle, and doing household chores, I had worn out my dominant arm. That summer I gardened holding a banana in my right hand, just so I wouldn't answer immediately to the urge to dig out dandelion roots and pull weeds.

Initially I balked at finishing my paintings with my left hand, I had no control over gestures, my left hand didn't know anything about brush strokes, fine nor broad.

My dominant hand and arm were frozen.

Maria Konnikova writes: "... when Gazzaniga asked W.J. to point to the stimulus instead of speaking, he became able to complete the task. In other words, his hand knew what his head and mouth did not."

While I don't have the same or even similar experience, what happened to me, a visual artist and writer, unable to use her dominant right hand and arm, is comparable. And in a strange way I felt liberated, the routine lacking left hand's action was propelled by the creative right side of my brain.

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
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