Left & Right Brain

Now I know Dave Snowden (Cognitive Edge) dislikes the concept of left and right brain thinking and I have to agree sometimes people use the idea in a very compartmentalising way, but this new article in the July edition of Scientific American trawls through some very interesting research into the possible origins of the Left and Right brain.

The part that amused me most was that:

The left hemisphere originally seems to have focused in general on controlling well-established patterns of behavior; the right specialized in detecting and responding to unexpected stimuli.

Now anyone familier with the cynefin framework will notice that this directly puts the left hemisphere as making sense of the ordered domains of simple and complicated and the right hand making sense of the unordered, complex and chaotic domains.

Near the end of the article I love the idea that a lack of symmetry or conformity might prevent predators from predicting behaviour. Conversely a symmetrical or conforming community is advantageous for social animals like ourselves for we have greater chance of knowing what to expect from others in our community.

Great ideas, stirring lots of thoughts about how this thinking might be applied. I highly recommend this article as a great read.



  1. On a workshop a couple of weeks ago, we were building things with Lego blocks.
    One thing we realised : we were all building symmetrical stuff, although the world itself is not symmetrical … just look at our face … two left half faces are not equal to two right half faces

    • Great article link. There is a really great book The Decisive moment by Jonah-Lehrer, which explains all about the complexities of the brain and the multiple parts that go into our decision making. He argues that we are part computer and part primitive being as we only evolved where we had to – but definitely not in a left/right split. Complex connections across the brain result in action. The next exciting computer developments may draw on biological matter linked to computers – which are not currently left and right orientated!

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