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September 28, 2007

Right is Might

You have forgotten your car keys and done hours of thinking; but to no avail. You give up in despair and start sipping your evening cup of coffee. Suddenly, out of nowhere you remember where you kept your keys. What you could not remember thinking, came so abruptly on its own. This is intuition and it is said that its the right brain (right half of the brain, obviously!) that is responsible for this. The famous scientist, Albert Einstein said The only real valuable thing is intuition.”

When we copy a 'normal' picture, the 'logical' brain breaks down the picture into graphical pixels. These pixels are then plotted in their graphical co-ordinates. This is rather like mathematics. The picture on the left have been intentionally placed upside down. When you try to draw this picture, you just can not take anything for granted, because the orientation is just not right. The mathematical plotting can not be activated. Where reasoning ends, intuition begins. It is much easier to draw (copy a picture) a picture placed upside down, since our logic takes the back seat then; and the intuitive role of the picture of a lady placed upside downright hemisphere ('intuitive brain') starts to play. We are no longer primed to 'assign' any coordinates preemptively. The right hemisphere of the brain is not only associated with intuition and drawing (art), but also emotion, music and other artistic abilities. The left brain is rather logical and deals with mathematics and other tasks that require calculations. When a subject is told to recall words, the activity in left frontal cortex increases (left parahippocampal area is also stimulated); while activities in the right frontal cortex (along with para hippocampal areas of both sides) are increased when a subject recalls sceneries or pictures. These activation patterns of the brain have been measured by fMRI scans (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), PET scans (Positron Emission Tomography), ERP studies (event related potential or evoked potential) and other medical investigations.

Have you noticed that when we hold babies in our arms, we put them on our left? This left cradling is puzzling, because its the right arm that is stronger. So, why do mothers hold their babies on their left laps? It has been suggested that our expressions show better on the left side of the face and left cradling fosters stronger mother-baby relationship. This arises from the fact that the hemispheres of the brain is cross-wired. The (some of the) neural pathways from the brain cross to the opposite sides, as they enter the spinal cord, to supply peripheral circuits. The right brain (the one responsible for emotion etc) is wired to the left side of the body and the left brain is wired to the right. Thus the 'emotion generator' right brain, will have its manifestation on the left side of the face. Mothers possibly don't bother about all this, but evolutionary anthropology has left its indelible footprints on bipeds.

To become a creative genius, you need both intelligence (a faculty usually attributed to the left brain) and intuition (typically a right brain's domain). Albert Einstein, it is said, had strong intuitive powers, which helped him to formulate his famous theory of relativity, ahead of the contemporary knowledge. So, its time we wake up to this fact and start exercising our right brains as well.

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