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« Rice criticizes anti-democratic Bush Administration (Joe) | Main | Lux Populi and Charity »

October 15, 2007


On link #3 (left / right brain), I shared this with other co-bloggers:

My husband could not see anything except anti-clockwise rotation - no matter how hard he tried. I had the weirdest thing happen. Started as counter clockwise, quickly reversed to clockwise and back and forth. Now I can whip the girl around either way at will, even swinging her from side to side without letting her complete a full rotation! I wonder what it says about my convoluted brain. (Someone suggested that it is due to my extreme anxiety about the Democratic presidential politics)

Now, those who are stuck in a left / right rut, try this. Look at the twirler's extended foot. Let her turn until she extends the leg to the maximum length on the right or left (clock positions, roughly 5 or 7) and just before she turns away from you, bring your eyes back in the opposite direction. She will "turn" from clockwise to counter-clockwise and vice versa. She does for me, every time. That is how I can make her gyrate without allowing a full turn.

Now I am working on bringing her to a stop :-)

In my case, I started seeing her go anticlockwise and when I switched to reading the article on the left and glanced at her, she was turning clockwise. I tried focusing on the foot that she was pivoting on and it seemed to kind of randomly oscillate between turning clockwise and anticlockwise. Your method works like a charm for controlling the change in direction at will though!

Any success with bringing her to a stop? When I last viewed her, the animation seemed to have slowed down almost to a stop more than a few times.

Richard Dawkins has upped the ante. He has two girls twirling side by side. Doesn't make much of a difference. I can control both girls in unison.

So can I.

In the discussion, MacDoc quotes the following lines (don't know who said this)
"Our personality can be thought of as a result of the degree to which these left and right brains interact, or, in some cases, do not interact. It is a simplification to identify "left brain" types who are very analytical and orderly. We likewise certainly know of the artistic, unpredictability and creativity of "right brain" types. But each of us draws upon specific sides of our brain for a variety of daily functions, depending on such things as our age, education and life experiences. The choices of which brain is in control of which situations is what forges our personalities and determines our character.

Experiments show that most children rank highly creative (right brain) before entering school. Because our educational systems place a higher value on left brain skills such as mathematics, logic and language than it does on drawing or using our imagination, only ten percent of these same children will rank highly creative by age 7. By the time we are adults, high creativity remains in only 2 percent of the population."

Does he mean to imply that schools are uniformly geared to squeezing out any vestiges of creativity in the students? It's a point well worth pondering.

Look at the twirler's extended foot. Let her turn until she extends the leg to the maximum length on the right or left...

Actually, I can see both directions pretty easily, although the default is clockwise. I've even managed to watch her extended arm go one direction while her leg heads in the other, for an instant. I find disconcerting the fact that rules of perspective are being violated: her extended leg remains the same size and shape regardless of whether it's viewed as behind or in front of the rest of her body.

I confess that I don't get the distinction between "can comprehend" (left brain function) and "can 'get it'" (right). Presumably, it's similar to "knowing" versus "believes"...but not quite. And "acknowledges" versus "appreciates" just seems like a false dichotomy that might have more to do with emotional temperament than cognitive functions.

I'm also wondering whether or not this right/left dichotomy business turns on whether or not one is a leg man.

Okay, after an initial struggle to see the image moving in any direction but counter-clockwise, I can now see it moving in the clockwise direction, though it tends to drift back to the counter-clockwise absent applied effort. For me, the "trick" is focusing on the shadow foot, below. For some reason, I tend to see that foot as moving clockwise, and if I then move my eyes upward, the rest of the image follows. Perhaps this is a left hemisphere analytic approach to engaging the right hemisphere.

The extract you quote, Sujatha, follows my own initial musings about this test: I wondered to what degree it was affected by the activities in which one had been engaging. Last night, approaching it after a weekend swamped with murderously left-brained legal work, I could see nothing but the counter-clockwise image. Perhaps a night of rest released my brain from its rut.

I also agree with the extract you cite in that I would be inclined to eschew broad generalizations about personality drawn from this kind of surface data about something as complex as neuroscience (I have a similar aversion to broad sociological conclusions supposedly drawn from evolutionary biology).

In my own case, as I noted in a separate email, notwithstanding these results, I have been diagnosed by doctors on the basis of other, material tests as having an atypical reliance on my right hemisphere, because of mild, left hemisphere structural abnormalities (of course, this might just mean that I would have been really, really left-brained otherwise). I play sports left-handed, though I write right-handed. I also identify as fairly "right-brained" in its colloquial meaning-- intuitive, big-picture oriented, visual arts-oriented, even in my approach to language-- certainly as far as lawyers go (not very, I guess).

Also, while left-handed people are dependent on their right hemisphere in controlling physical movement, some of the most "left-brained," analytic people I've known, including my father, a political economist (and for that matter Ruchira's daughter, a law school classmate of mine) are left handed.

Clearly the implications of hemispheric function are much more complex than a bullet point list.


Now, that's an interesting conjecture - the possibility that a different part of the brain could have been engaged based on the sexual orientation of the viewer's brain. Perhaps they should have had a stick figure rather than a shapely female silhouette.


It's definitely not a very scientific way to determine the degree of left-brain vs. right-brain activity- most people fall in a continuum between the two extremes, I think.
It may be junk science to categorize people using these optical tricks, but it's definitely a lot of fun!

The left-right brain thing is just as illusory as the Mars-Venus myth. I believe that except for those in the far ends of the bell curve (autistic savants being on the farthest edge of left brained classification and perhaps the mystic Sufis at the other), most of us as Anna said, can rise to the occasion according to the task at hand with some preferred leanings one way or the other. Broad generalizations in socio-biology are indeed troublesome - although much fun.

This particular "left-right girl" is all over the blogosphere - in fact I saw it before Sujatha had posted it here. The reason for her popularity could be as Dean suggested, her shapely legs ... and I suspect also because one can see her nipple(s?) in profile.

Anna, the left brained / right brained perspectives of Barcelona from you and Andrew are still a good idea.

Oops, I crossed with Sujatha - we were both saying the same thing.

If sexual orientation is key, I would like to see how my own brain whirls if the figure is a well sculpted male. Or may be not - I'm probably past caring.

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