You may have heard child brain development discussions about right brain and left brain functions. Traditionally, left brain function was more logical and right brain function was more artistic and emotional. Recent research by Iain McGilchrist published in his book The Master and His Emissary has updated this understanding (through studies of brains damaged on either the left side, right side, or in the connecting tissue of the corpus callosum) to show that the right hemisphere sees the whole of a situation, while the left hemisphere focuses on the details. It is a survival mechanism that, in animals, allows a bird to focus on eating with its left brain (specifically how to pick up a seed with its beak), while not being eaten as the right brain scans the area for predators. In humans, we see the interplay when we try to play a piece of music on the piano: The left brain focuses on which keys to play in which order for each note, while the right brain focuses on how the notes fit together to create a rhythm or melody.
For your child’s brain development, her left brain deals with reading, writing, and grasping, while her right brain deals with the structure of reality. The left brain is more black and white, while the right brain sees many shades of gray. The left brain focuses on results while the right brain appreciates intent. The left brain is the seat of anger, while the right brain tends to be more emotionally literate and appreciates humor and art.
McGilchrist believes our modern society prioritizes the details and facts of the left brain over the wisdom and judgment of the right brain, but we obviously want to develop both sides.
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