Right Brain/Left Brain Passages Of The Day

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The simple geography of right brain/left brain has made it very appealing – to the point that there is almost a hemispheric racism:”He’s too left-brained….”
“We need a right-brained person for this…”
“We employed her to bring some right brain to bear on the matter….”While the right/left brain notation has some value in indicating that not all thinking is linear and symbolic the matter has been exaggerated to the point that it is dangerous and limiting and doing great harm to the cause of creativity.

In the right-handed person the left brain is the “educated” part of the brain and picks up on language, symbols, and seeing things as we know they should be. The right brain is the un-educated “innocent” that has learned nothing. So in matters of drawing, music, and the like, the right brain can see things with an innocent eye. You might draw things as they really look, not as you think they ought to be.

The right brain might allow a more holistic view instead of building things up point by point.

All these things have a value, but when we come to the creativity involved in changing concepts and perceptions, we have no choice but to use the left brain as well because that is where concepts and perceptions are formed and lodged. It is possible to see which parts of the brain are working at any given moment by doing a PET (Positive Emission Tomography) scan. Little flashes of radiation captured on a film show the activity. It seems clear than when a person is doing creative thinking both left and right brains are active at the same time. This is much as one might expect.

So while there is some merit in the right/left brain notation and some value for innocence in certain activities (music, drawing) the basic concept is misleading when it comes to creative thinking. It is misleading because it suggests that in order to be creative all we need to do is to drop the left brain behaviour and use right brain behaviour.

Edward de Bono

Edward de Bono is regarded by many as the leading authority in the field of creative thinking, innovation and the direct teaching of thinking as a skill. He is equally renowned for his development of the Six Thinking Hats® technique and the Direct Attention Thinking Tools™ (D.A.T.T.™) framework. Edward de Bono is the originator of the concept – and formal tools – of Lateral Thinking, which is now a part of language enjoying an entry in the Oxford Dictionary. Dr. de Bono was born in Malta. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, holds an M.A. in psychology and physiology from Oxford, a D. Phil in Medicine, a Ph.D. from Cambridge, a D. Des (Doctor of Design) from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology; an LL.D. from Dundee. He holds professorships at the Universities of Malta, Pretoria, Dublin City University, and the University of Central England. The New Univeristy of Advancing Technology in Phoenix, Arizona appointed Dr. de Bono Da Vinci Professor of Thinking in May 2005.

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