Current Lectures by Robert Ornstein
THE BRAIN: WHAT'S RIGHT AND WHAT'S LEFT
The discovery of the different workings of the two sides of the brain has been, perhaps, the most exciting and controversial topic in human science for decades. Now that thousands of studies have been done, some of the research is even more surprising than originally thought.
NEW WORLD NEW MIND: NEW IDEAS
The human mental system evolved to suit conditions that faced our ancestors millennia ago. We still have that mind, one adapted to a short timeframe and a short horizon world, in which changes took place over centuries not hours. The human mind is failing to comprehend a world in which more people are added each month than were living at the time of Christ. We misperceive threats, eading to an exaggerated response, for instance, to terrorism and too little response to constant dangers such as smoking and pollution. How to change this is the subject.
We do not have a thoroughly modern mind although we live in a thoroughly modern world. We do not have a single brain; we have a multiple one. We have a complex and unorganized collection of special-purpose solutions to meet different circumstances. We have "small" minds for reacting to emergencies, for detecting sharp changes in the environment, and many "minds of the body" which control health. The brain contains several different and independent centers of action each of which has a "mind of its own." There are significant problems for the maintenance of our health when our separated small minds disagree.
TEACHING-STORIES AND THE BRAIN
Teaching-Stories activate the right side of the brain much more than does reading normal prose. The right side of the brain provides "context," the essential function of putting together the different components of experience. The left side provides the "text," or the pieces themselves. These stories are designed to embody--in their characters, plots and imagery--patterns and relationships that nurture a part of the mind that is unreachable in more direct ways, thus increasing our understanding and perceptions. Such stories are pivotal in cognitive development, they lead the child and then the adult to learn more about what happens in the world, when and how events come together.