How the brain works.

Now I'm no doctor, I have no medical training, I can't even perform CPR, but from watching how things work out, I've managed to dicover the following. I'm sure it's not ground breaking or anything, but I've never heard of anybody talk about it like this, so I present my ideas here. Because the internet is an easy place to publish your ideas. See also my one liners of wisdom.

It's all about brain development. I'm not a neurosurgeon and all my information comes from analysis of how I think and the people I've seen think.

But whether or not it's "true" is more dependant on whether you buy this particular implementation of the story. I'm 100% confident that my observations are correct and universal, you just might not buy the context that I set the story in.

A real scientist would use big words. I use the terms 'left brain' and 'right brain.' And they have nothing to do with physical location, it's just a logical assignment, had to call it something.

The basic idea is this: You have a left brain and a right brain. The left brain does the conscious thinking, the right brain takes care of motor coordinated skills. When you're concentrating on something, a math problem, a grocery list, you're using your left brain. There is only one processor. You can only work on one math problem or hold one conversation at a time.

If somebody says they can do two thinking things at a time, all they're doing is context switching really quickly, they're not actually thinking two conscious trains of thought at the same time. (I also believe that at some time there has been or will be a mutation in somebody that allows for multiple processing in the left brain at the same time. This is not schizophrenia, that's just context switching at a different level.)

Anyway. That's your left brain. Your right brain does the mechanically coordinated stuff. The juggling, the walking, the breathing, the moving your eyes where you want to look, and of course rubbing your tummy while tapping your head. You have lots of these. And you can use them all at the same time. I've been trying to figure out how many things you can do at once with your right brain before you run out of processing power, do you have more muscles, or processors? But it's not just movement, it's pattern of movement. And what I think I've learned is that there isn't enough time in the day/life to get good enough at different motor coordinated skills to find out. I'm not sure if they drop off, or if they get too similar and you get confused. For example, on my bicycle I have instinctively tried to turn on the turn signal as I would my motorcycle when making a turn. They sorta mush together when they get too similar. That's a failing of the right brain it's not very smart. It can't think higher conscious thoughts.

When you're a kid, your brain is empty, as you get older you learn things with your left brain, as you practice repeated motions you are teaching your right brain. The left brain is much slower, but much smarter than the right brain.

Nobody but nobody who's never tried to juggle can pick up and start juggling. It's impossible. Nobody thinks fast enough in the left brain to juggle. Gravity is too fast for our slow brains. You have to think with your left brain and try small parts of the motions you want to learn, until your right brain learns it, then can do it on its own. Then you can learn more with your left brain, and apply it to the right brain and so on.

The really interesting bits are how the left and right brains talk to each other. I haven't worked that all out, but it sorta goes like this: the left brain knows it wants to do something, so it shoots off the request to the right brain and it takes it from there ("start walking, and don't bother me until something interesting happens") and then the left brain is mostly free to think about something else (the conversation at hand or something like that)

Somebody told me that interesting things happen when you sever that little bit of brain that attaches the two halves, but I don't know enough about that to apply a theory to it.

So when you're young and in school, you can walk and run and maybe throw a ball and ride a bike, but that's, it. Your left brain is so empty it spends all its time thinking and noticing and observing. Everything is new. All the sights, sounds, smells are fresh and you have no older experience to draw on to compare it to. Which is why childhood seems to take so long. You're concentrating on EVERY minute of your waking life. Adults have the opposite problem, but I'll get to that in a minute.

Oh yeah "you never forget how to ride a bike." Because it's a right brain motor coordinated skill. You will lose precision at it (see precision skills below) but you won't actually 'forget' it.

As you get older, these visual patterns of get up, take a shower, get dressed, eat, go to the bus, watch the same streets go by on the bus, all become right brain and you automatically recognize them and don't pay any left brain attention to them anymore. And it's automatic. You don't try to do this, it just happens.

Now here's the cool bit: the left brain notices when something doesn't fit the pattern. When a record skips, when a tree has fallen in the road, when some part of the ritual routine is different from what your right brain is expecting to associate, it alerts the left brain, or the left brain somehow takes notice.

The best example of this that most people can relate to is this: "How did I get to work? I remember getting in the car, and I remember pulling into the parking lot at the office, but I don't remember anything between."

That's because by the time you get older, more things are automatic responses to right brain memories, and known patterns and don't require ANY left brain activity and (here's the magic bit) if you don't think about it with your left brain, you never concentrate on it, and therefore don't remember it. Plain and simple. You can only remember things that you concentrate on with your left brain.

I also use this to explain why you get 'used to' music. Learned music is also right brain memory, so is playing an instrument for that matter. You learn the right brain motions of pressing the piano keys correctly, but that doesn't mean you can play any song put in front of you. Those who can sight-read, that is, play off sheet music they have never seen before, have gained the reading and interpreting the music as a precision skill. Reading english or music are both learned right brain skills. When you get very good at it, less work (slow work) is required by your left brain to process and you can play by sight, because your right brain is fast enough to do that.

Driving is a right brain skill. When you first learn to drive, the right brain knows nothing about controlling a car or dealing with all of the input on the road, signs, traffic lights, other cars. But as you learn it becomes more and more right brain, and easier to do, because your right brain takes care of a lot of the mechanics of operating the car and you can use your left brain to watch out for traffic.

The saving grace of our brain design which is what keeps most people from getting into car accidents while they're 'zoning out' is that any change in the expected pattern wakes us up. Somebody cuts you off, or there's an obstruction in the road. Brings you back to left brain awareness so you can do some high level thought of how to deal with the problem.

By the way, this is why talking on a cell phone in a car isn't so bad. It's mostly because most americans don't drive very well to begin with, and they have trouble making right brain decisions on what's more important, the phone or the driving when the left brain is alerted to a something-doesn't-fit-the-pattern problem.

There's lots more like precision skills and why time goes faster as you get older, how you can juggle blindfolded, and other things like that, but I'll get to that in a later installment of this page.

What really amazes me is how I've never heard or read anybody say anything like this. But it's so universal that in one form or another is HAS to be true.

Oh, another neat right brain thing. You can juggle while reading a book. It turns out that your right brain makes very good use of your senses that you're not concentrating on. When juggling, as long as you keep the TOP of the pattern in your peripheral vision, you can continue to juggle, even if you're watching TV or reading a book, with your left brain.

But if you only keep the bottom in, you can't because you don't have enough time to calculate the trajectory of the ball falling and you'll almost always miss it. This means that your right brain can not only handle the juggling when you're not concentrating on it, but it can accurately calculate trajectory with only a tiny bit of the start of the fall available to it to work with.

Arguably, you should be able to drive while reading, but you'd have to keep most of the road in your peripheral vision, and you probably would miss small road obstructions like potholes, but you could probably keep in your lane and avoid hitting cars.

Hmm.... worth figuring out, if right brain can sense depth. I'll have to check that out.

Somebody sent me a related link that might also be of interest:

stu mark spamme at