Sunday, July 5, 2015

Whole Brain Thinking

The brain is the hardware, and the mind is the software with the totality in action, hardware plus software.

According to the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance, each side of the brain controls different types of thinking. Additionally, people are said to prefer one type of thinking over the other. It has been shown that in many ways the two parts of the brain work separately yet without apparent conflict. Do they process information differently? Are you left-brainer or right-brainer? Shall we encourage whole brain thinking?

Left-brain is more analytical, and right-brain is more intuitive: According to the left-brain, right brain dominance theory, the right side of the brain is best at expressive and creative tasks. The left-side of the brain is considered to be adept at tasks that involve logic, language, and analytical thinking. In general, the left and right hemispheres of our brain process information in different ways. The focus of the left brain is verbal, processing information in an analytical and sequential way, looking first at the pieces then putting them together to get the whole. Left brain thinking is verbal and analytical. The right brain is nonverbal and intuitive, using pictures rather than words. Is the right hemisphere more connected? Some research shows the left hemisphere doesn't have many connections to other parts of the brain as compared to the right hemisphere. The right hemisphere is the source of creativity, and it also has very far-flung connections throughout the brain. And the innovative aha arises when original connections are made.

The human brain function is far too complex to be so simplistic as “half-half.” We all have the right and left halves of our brain connected by a dense jungle of neurons called corpus callosum that enable both the halves of the brain to talk to each other. The contention that we have a rational left brain and an intuitive, artistic right side is fable: humans use both hemispheres of the brain for all cognitive functions. The left brain/right brain notion originated from the realization that many (though not all) people process languages more in the left hemisphere and spatial abilities and emotional expression more in the right. Psychologists have used the idea to explain distinctions between different personality types. But brain-imaging studies show no evidence of the right hemisphere as a locus of creativity. And the brain recruits both left and right sides for both reading and math. Though in reality, individual differences in cognitive strengths. Some are more creative; others are more analytical than others.

Totality is important. The brain is to mind as the eye is to sight. The brain is the hardware, and the mind is the software with the totality in action, hardware plus software. The wholeness (hardware + software) is important to create quality thoughts. To look for the mind within the brain seems then as silly as looking for the music between the strings of a piano. If we realize that the brain consists mostly out of “wires” guiding electrical impulses in feedforward- and feedback-controlled loops, that cannot even tell our senses apart, it is difficult to imagine where to find the mind. It might start getting far easier if we assume the mind as an emergent property, created, millisecond by millisecond, partially by the brain and partially by its environment. Mind - or 'consciousness' - is proposed as a 'quantum mind' by some physicists. Others, also reputed scientists dispute this but invoke a more fundamental structure. According to social constructionism, the mind would more be between people, in their interaction, with both hard reasoning (analytics) and soft touch (emotion). The holistic thinking is, therefore, important.

To adapt to the over-complex, hyper-connected digital world, one needs to train self how to engage the whole brain, to think both creatively and critically, analytically and synthetically, linearly and non-linearly, to embrace more 'Aha Moment" for creating fresh ideas or identify 'trigger point" for decision making. So the whole-brainer is needed at the digital age.


My left brain tells me I am a right brained person. How does one encourage whole brain thinking? Is the much more difficult question to answer. I may think I am intuitive but to a extremely intuitive person I am analytical. Most often I use analytical reason to question, root out and replace intuitive thoughts that I believe may be holding me back, stunting courage or growth, or those formed by less complete information than is currently available. Think it through before acting. Use intuition when vision and imagination are called for but then tame it back to reason through analyses.
When assumptions are broken in to the collection of observations or facts on which they are based inconsistencies can more easily be spotted. One piece of advice I find repeatedly in leadership guidance is, "in order to lead you must follow". When a subordinate has a suggestion, if made off the cuff, best to take mental note, promise to revisit and make time to give your undivided attention. Ask questions to break open the idea into its components. In so doing you may find an 'Aha feature in the idea. Should you put into operation the concept from the discussion, be sure to give credit to the originator. If the idea is likely to be popular do so in front of the others, if less so, privately.

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