Iain McGilchrist on the Divided Brain

In this mile-a-minute RSA animation, Iain McGilchrist describes the real differences between the left and right hemispheres of the human brain. It’s not simply “emotion on the right, reason on the left,” but something far more complex and interesting.

Iain McGilchrist is a psychiatrist and writer. Before he came to medicine, he was a literary scholar — and his work on the brain is shaped by a deep questioning of the role of art and culture. As his official bio puts it: “He is committed to the idea that the mind and brain can be understood only by seeing them in the broadest possible context, that of the whole of our physical and spiritual existence, and of the wider human culture in which they arise — the culture which helps to mould, and in turn is moulded by, our minds and brains.”

 

His recent book The Master and His Emissary explores the nature of the brain’s two hemispheres (the right is the “master,” in McGilchrist’s terms). How have our two hemispheres evolved to relate — and how did their relationship create our consciousness, our culture, and our ability to understand our own brains?

The video below is a slower more detailed talk by McGilchrist

Bottom line: To reason OR imagine, you need BOTH hemispheres— whole-brain thinking.