Changing Channels

Switching on the right side of our brains

Central to my work is the relative dominance of one brain hemisphere over the other. In the natural order of things, the right hemisphere should lead. But our schooling systems have encouraged left hemisphere dominance.

So what does hemisphere dominance mean? At its simplest it means which hemisphere is triggered if something happens, we meet somebody or we read something. Left hemisphere dominance means the left hemisphere is the “first responder”, and the left hemisphere is self-centred, competitive and judgemental. It tends to ignore things that don’t fit its world view. Does this sound familiar?

TV - 1950s.jpg

Over the last couple of years, I have consciously learnt French using my right hemisphere. This should be the norm. We're meant to learn new things there and then transfer them to the left hemisphere once learnt. At school I spent six years being taught French and I tried really hard to learn it well. I failed. Now, when I am with French speaking people I understand everything they say with ease.

However, when I watch French news on TV I still struggle to understand it. This is because TV triggers the left hemisphere (yes, it really does). My left hemisphere says “I know French, I’m handling this”. But it applies the French I learnt at school not what I have learnt since, through my right hemisphere.

So, which hemisphere triggers first makes a big difference to how we respond to the world.

John Corrigan