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A Whole New Mind

In class we were speaking about the right/left/whole brain issue, re: The Alphabet & the Goddess, and our discussion reminded me of the book, A Whole New Mind, by Daniel Pink.  In A Whole New Mind, Pink is essentially saying that we’re shifting our attentions from “left brain” thinking and becoming more visual, using the “right/whole brain,” thus altering what has been a predominantly “left brain” culture. He says we read from left to right (when other cultures read in different ways or in symbols), so we turn to the left, activating our left brain hemisphere. Now that visuals, gaming, emoticons, symbols, infographics are popping up, they’re changing the way we read, think, understand, perceive, and literally see the world. They even change the way we turn our heads to activate specific hemispheres. I thought it was an interesting book.  Here’s an excerpt (p.18-21):

… in Western languages, reading and writing involve turning from left to right and therefore exercise the brain’s left hemisphere.  Written languages invented by the Greeks around 550 B.C.E., has helped reinforce left hemisphere dominance (at least in the West) and created what Harvard classicist Eric Havelock called “the alphabetic mind.” So perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that the left hemisphere has dominated the game.  It’s the only side that knows how to write the rules…. Unlike English, languages that require the reader to supply the vowels by discerning the context are usually written from right to left… and moving one’s eyes in that direction depends on the brain’s right hemisphere.

It’s a lot more detailed in the book, and I highly recommend reading the book.  This is a rather simplistic paraphrase here, but Pink says that the left brain is in charge of text while the right brain is in charge of context.  If we shift the ways we read from left to right (text) when we begin to read in symbols and modern hieroglyphics, infographics, emoticons, etc, we activate the right hemisphere and change the ways we think and understand new material.

This is a TED Talk tweeted earlier by Kathleen about how doodling (perhaps a “right brain” activity) allows us to retain more information and think creatively:

Doodlers Unite!




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