Saturday, February 23, 2013

hemisphericity and creativity

When you sit down to write, it’s useful to imagine that your brain is neatly divided in two. In other words, it’s a good metaphor. Writers often tend to see writing as one task. In fact, it’s a number of distinct tasks, including researching, creating, and editing—it is impossible to create freely and edit wisely at the same time. Many years ago we believed we understood the brain better than we actually do. You may recall the research from those early days of brain research talked about the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. As a result of some interesting studies on people who were epileptic, scientists thought they had discovered that the two sides of our brains operate completely differently. At the time, they said that the brain worked this way:

Left hemisphere
Responds to detail
Good with syntax and grammar
"Sees" in words

Right hemisphere
Responds to the whole
Good with images
“Sees” in pictures

Sounds good in theory, doesn’t it? But some relatively new technology has allowed scientists to measure exactly where brain activity occurs, and they now tell us that the brain is a whole lot messier than the theory supposed.

versus right sounds great, but the reality is, our brains are more like popcorn machines. Those kernels (synapses) are flying in every direction! In the future, scientists will undoubtedly have a lot more to tell us about exactly which parts of the brain are responsible for what. For now, it’s probably enough to know that when you edit or polish your writing, you’re using one part of your brain, and when you sit down to create, you’re using a different part—the creative part.

Here’s an interesting questionnaire to help you determine your style of learning and thinking. The responses: (left), (right), or (both)are listed following each questionnaire response. In each triad below, select the one that describes most accurately your strength or preference:
  • not good at remembering faces (left)
  • not good at remembering names (right)
  • equally good at remembering names and faces (both)

  • respond best to verbal instruction (left)
  • respond best to instruction by example (right)
  • equally responsive to verbal instruction and instruction by example (both)

  • able to express feelings and emotions freely (right)
  • controlled in expression of feelings and emotions (left)
  • inhibited in expression of feelings and emotions (left)

  • playful and loose in experimenting (in sports, art, extra curricular activities, etc.) (right)
  • systematic and controlled in experimenting (left)
  • equal preference for playful/loose and systematic/controlled ways of experimenting (both)

  • prefer classes where I have one assignment at a time (left)
  • prefer classes where I am studying or wording on many things at once (right)
  • I have equal preference for the above type classes (both)

  • preference for multiple-choice tests (right)
  • preference for essay tests (left)
  • equal preference for multiple-choice and essay tests (both)

  • good at interpreting body language or the tone aspect of verbal communication (right)
  • poor at interpreting body language; dependent upon what people say (left)
  • equally good at interpreting body language and verbal expression. (both)

  • good at thinking up funny things to say and/or do (right)
  • poor at thinking up funny things to say and/or do (left)
  • moderately good at thinking up funny things to say or do (both)

  • prefer classes in which I am moving and doing things (right)
  • prefer classes in which I listen to others (left)
  • equal preference for classes in which I am moving and doing things and those in which I listen (both)

  • use factual, objective information in making judgments (left)
  • use personal experiences and feelings in making judgments (right)
  • make equal use of factual, objective information and personal experiences/feelings in making judgments (both)

  • playful approach in solving problems (right)
  • serious, all-business approach to solving problems (left)
  • combination of playful and serious approach in solving problems (both)

  • mentally receptive and responsive to sounds and images more than to people (right)
  • essentially self-acting and creative mentally with groups of other people (left)
  • equally receptive and self-acting mentally regardless of setting (both)

  • almost always am able to use freely whatever is available to get work done (right)
  • at times am able to use whatever is available to get work done (both)
  • prefer working with proper materials, using things for what they are intended to be used for (left)

  • like for my work to be planned and know exactly what I am supposed to do (left)
  • like for my work to be open with opportunities for flexibility and change as I go along (right)
  • equal preference for work that is planned and those that open to change (both)

  • very inventive (right)
  • occasionally inventive (both)
  • never inventive (left)

  • think best while lying flat on back (right)
  • think best while sitting upright (left)
  • think best while walking or moving about (both)

  • like classes where the work has clear and immediate applications (e.g., mechanical drawing, shop, home economics) (right)
  • like classes where the work does not have a clearly practical application (literature, algebra, history) (left)
  • equal preference for the above type of classes (both)

  • like to play hunches and make guesses when I am unsure about things (right)
  • rather not guess or plaa hunch when in doubt (left)
  • play hunches and make guesses in some situations (both)

  • like to express feelings and ideas in plain language (left)
  • like to express feelings and ideas in poetry, song, dance, etc.(right)
  • equal preference for expressing feelings and ideas in plain language or in poetry, song, dance, etc.(both)

  • usually get many new insights from poetry. symbols, etc. (right)
  • occasionally get new insights from poetry. symbols, etc. (both)
  • rarely ever get new insights from poetry, symbols, etc. (left)

  • preference for simple problems (left)
  • preference for complex problems (right)
  • equal preference for simple and complex problems (both)

  • responsive to emotional appeals (right)
  • responsive to logical, verbal appeals (left)
  • equally responsive to emotional and verbal appeals (both)

  • preference for dealing with one problem at a time (left)
  • preference for dealing with several problems at a time (right)
  • equal preference for dealing with problems sequentiallor simultaneously (both)

  • prefer to learn the well established parts of a subject (left)
  • prefer to deal with theory and speculations about new subject matter (right)
  • prefer to have equal parts of the two above approaches to learning (both)

  • preference for critical and analytical reading as for a book review, criticism of a movie, etc. (right)
  • preference for creative, synthesizing reading as for making applications and using information to solve problems (left)
  • equal preference for critical and creative reading (both)

  • preferences for  intuitive approach in solving problems (right)
  • preference for logical approach to solving problems (left)
  • equal preference for logical and intuitive approaches to solving problems (both)

  • prefer use of visualization and imagery in problem-solving (right)
  • prefer language and analysis of a problem in order to find solutions (left)
  • no preference for either method (both)

  • preference for solving problems logically (left)
  • preference for solving problems through experience (right)
  • equal preference for solving problems logically or through experience (both)

  • skilled-in giving verbal explanations (left)
  • skilled in showing by movement and action (right)
  • equally able to give verbal explanation and explanations by action and movement (both)

  • learn best from teaching which uses verbal explanation (left)
  • learn best from teaching which uses visual presentation (right)
  • equal preference for verbal explanation and visual presentation (both)

  • primary reliance on language in remembering and thinking (left)
  • primary reliance on images in remembering and thinking (right)
  • equal reliance on language and images (both)

  • preference for analyzing something that has already been completed (left)
  • preference for organizing and completing something that is unfinished (right)
  • no real preference for either activity (both)

  • enjoyment of talking and writing (left)
  • enjoyment of drawing or manipulating objects (right)
  • enjoyment of both talking/writing and drawing/manipulating (both)

  • easily lost even in familiar surroundings (left)
  • easily find directions even in strange surroundings (right)
  • moderately skilled in finding directions (both)

  • more creative than intellectual (right)
  • more intellectual than creative (left)
  • equally creative and intellectual (both)

  • like to be in noisy, crowded places where lots of things are happening at once (right)
  • like to be in a place where I can concentrate on one activity to the best of my ability (left)
  • sometimes like both of the above and no real preference for one over the other (both)

  • primary outside interests are aesthetically oriented; that is, artistic, musical, dance, etc. (right)
  • primary outside interests are primarily practical and applied, that is, working, team sportsetc. (left)
  • participate equally in the above two types of activites (both)

  • vocational interests are primarily in the general areas of business, economics, and the hard sciences, i.e. chemistry, biology, physics, etc (left)
  • vocational interests are primarily in the general areas humanities and soft sciences, i.e., history, sociology, psychology, etc (right)
  • undecided or have no preference at this time  (both)

  • prefer to learn details and specific facts (left)
  • prefer a general overview of a subject, i.e., look at the whole picture (right)
  • prefer overview intermixed with specific facts and details (both)

  • mentally receptive and responsive to what I hear and read (left)
  • mentally searching, questioning, and self-initiating in learning (right)
  • equally receptive/responsive and searching/self-initiating (both)

    How about you? In what ways do you think identifying your style of learning and thinking is helpful to your creative writing?

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