Understanding the brain, and Brain Maps
© 2001 Stephen Holland --- firstname.lastname@example.org
|Input / Output||Inner parts|
|L / R Sides||Patchwork Quilt|
|Brain Maps||Print maps|
|LEFT Brain||RIGHT Brain|
|Activities||L / R Types|
|Balanced vs Expert||Men vs Women|
|Feedback - Sources||L--R Types|
|Talents in the Right Brain|
The Right "Animal" brain
The right brain is the "animal brain" and analyzes the environment for all the sights and sounds useful for survival. In essence, animals are 100% "right-brained." Humans have kept the animal talents on the right side, but have modified the left brain for language and tool use.
The following is a summary of talents found in the right brain. Each talent is a complex network of different processes beyond what is mentioned here, but injuries or strokes in these areas would result in serious loss of these specific talents.
Animals must be very concerned about their visual environment, both for food and danger. Therefore, this area is one of the oldest and best developed areas of the brain. Most animals can see shape, color, motion perception, depth perception, etc.
Humans have added left-brain symbolic meaning to the visual images, such as the word "rabbit" in the left brain to match the image in the right brain, or an art critic trying to analyze the meaning in a Picasso painting.
The Spatial Sense
The spatial sense helps animals see objects in their mind, the "Minds Eye." For example:
(A) The Object-Spatial sense allows animals to "rotate" an object in their mind, imagining what it looks like from different angles.
This is very useful to a cat to analyze where a mouse is hiding, mentally consider the mouse's path, and decide where to sit to be in the best position to ambush it.
Human craftsmen use this talent extensively to build houses, design jewelry, fix cars, etc. (In your mind, imagine opening the door of the cabinet under the kitchen sink -- what would you see?) This part of the brain is also used by humans to juggle math symbols for mental math (calculate "608 x 22 =" in your mind).
(B) The Navigational-Spatial sense allows animals to keep track of where they are in a larger environment, using the spatial relationship of landmark clues.
Bees can fly home in a "bee-line" using the sun as a landmark, even compensating for changes in the angle to the sun as it changes within a few minutes during the time they are in the hive or on the flowers. In the hive, scout bees symbolically translate their navigational knowledge into the language of dance -- different movements are "read" by other bees telling them what direction the new flowers are in relation to the sun's angle, how far away they are, and how good the source is.
Humans use this talent to find their car in the mall parking lot, and remember how to drive their cars through a maze of city streets to get home after work. (While inside a shopping mall, can you point in a "bee-line" to directly where you car is?). We symbolically translate locations into maps, pointing with our fingers, and using location and distance names. To imitate the bee's symbolic dance, we might use symbolic language: "You'll find a very good ice cream store if you go that way 3 blocks and turn left."
Music is an extension of sound talents used for animal communication, such as bird songs.
Birds must be able to analyze the pitch, melodies, intervals, rhythm and harmonies of bird songs to determine if the song is of the same species, if the song is a territorial or mating call, and which individual is singing. Animals as diverse as humpback whales, parrots, and dolphins have intricate sound patterns for communication.
Humans add more complexity with left-brain symbolism that can analyze music into chromatic scales, the "key of D major", choruses, four-part harmony, etc.
Body senses includes touch, pain, and limb position. Because the brain is "blind," it must use these senses to learn about the body carrying it.
One important sense is "proprioception," which uses sensors in the joints to tell where a limb is (Close your eyes and then try to keep track of your arm as you move it around).
Humans use this proprioception sense when doing numerous activities, including sports, dance and musical instruments. If this area is weak, then a piano player will reach out with his arm incorrectly and hit the wrong notes on the keyboard, and a gymnast wouldn't know where her limbs were very well.
Memory processes are not well understood, but we know that the location for many memories are in the temporal lobe. The right temporal lobe has mostly visual memories and non-verbal sounds (bird songs, your pet dog, music, etc.).
Face Memory is so important that the brain has a special place for it, at the bottom of the right temporal lobe. As a child, you were exposed to many faces, and your brain learned an "average" face. Your brain remembers individuals by how they differ from the average. In fact, the brain defines a "beautiful" face as an "average" face because it has no deviations or defects.
Animals developed this feature to tell friend from foe, and identify family members. Humans see each other as individuals but may not identify cows well, but the cows know each other as individuals and think most humans look the same.
Emotional Memory is a special feature of the front of the temporal lobe. It stores emotional tags on memories as a way of determining the importance of the memory. A pet dog may have "pleasure" emotions associated with its memory, while the dog down the street may have "danger" emotional tags. The sight of each dog's image may trigger the emotions, or thinking the emotions may trigger the images.
Emotional tags learned very young can become the basis of phobias, racial prejudice, and tribal warfare, and are very difficult to change in adults.
The Creative "Yes" area
The central frontal lobe creates new ideas and patterns from the raw material in memory and senses.
Creativity is a talent that is based on the strength of other talents. The field of creativity depends upon which patches this area is strongly connected to, such as art, dance, music, architecture, etc. A person with this area strongly connected to the face memory patch may be good at organizing social relationships.
This area is also the "Yes" or "Go" center. It's job is to think up an action (which may or may not be creative). People who have a strong Go center will tend to say "Why not?" and be the first to to do wild or dangerous things. People with weak Go centers will tend to be lazy and unmotivated.
The "No" or Inhibition area
Inhibition is in the lower frontal lobe. It's job is to inhibit the "Go" center, thus striking a balance, and protecting people from acting in a way that can lead to danger. It is a self-protective talent. This is where we learn what is right and wrong behavior, store our conscience, and learn social manners (correct behavior).
If this is naturally weak, or not well developed, then a person will have low inhibitions, and perhaps anti-social or criminal behavior, which may put the person in danger.
A person with a strong inhibition talent will tend to think "no" to new ideas and suggestions, thereby over-protecting themselves. Unfortunately, this aspect can also bother other people, such as teenage children or employees, who are excited with new ideas or plans.
Animals that stay in groups will have the most need for learning inhibitions, and therefore be the most trainable. Individuals in a
pack of wolves or dogs, a group of apes, or a tribe of humans, need to learn "social behavior" to survive well. Solitary animals such as house cats don't need to learn many inhibitions. This can explain why dogs become so sociable and trainable, while house cats can't be trained well (lions in Africa live in groups, so may be more trainable than house cats).
The Premotor area
The premotor area is where muscle action is learned, through practice.
This is the key area for learning actions, such as learning to fly, catch mice, dance, swing a tennis racket, play a piano, or shuffle cards. When a behavior is thoroughly learned, it becomes a habit. Interestingly, some muscle action can be practiced mentally.
If this area is strong, then people learn complex actions quickly, such as a new dance step. If it is weak, then people learn slowly, and need to practice a lot.
The Motor area
The motor area is like a puppet master controlling individual muscles by pulling strings (the premotor area is the puppet master, and the creative area writes the script).
The nerves cross going to the brain, so the right motor area controls the left side of the body, such as the left hand. Left-handed people operate from the right side of the brain.
Injuries or strokes on the right side of the brain make the left side of the body paralyzed.
The cerebellum at the back of the neck coordinates muscle motion. The motor area sends a command to reach for a glass of water. If the cerebellum is well developed, then it intercepts the muscle signals and modifies them so that the hand slowly accerelates smoothly to start with, then slows down smoothly as it gets near the glass. If the cerebellum is weak, then the arm may shoot out awkwaredly and knock the glass over.
A good cerebellum action produces...
A weak cerebellum can show up as being awkward, clumsy, falling easily, and typing slowly,