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Two Sides

Photo by Ivan Obolensky

I used to ride horses. One thing I learned was that you had to train “both sides” of a horse. Their brains are bicameral (two hemispheres) just like ours, only the connection between the two is minimal for them. Just because a horse has been taught to bend around a rider’s leg on one side (useful in certain kinds of riding like dressage and jumping) doesn’t mean it is able to have that ability on the other. The rider must work both. Horses, just like humans, have strong sides and weak sides. They prefer to work the side that is the strongest. Humans do the same.

Research into the bicameral aspects of the human brain showed that the right side controls the muscles on the left and the left controls muscles on the right.

Roger Sperry was awarded a Nobel prize for medicine in 1981. His research showed that the left side of the brain controls language and logic while the right side was more concerned with spatial information and visual comprehension. This led to the concept of lateralization of brain function.

Later research found that although some functions occur in one side or the other, language tending to be on the left while attention more on the right, both sides worked equally in terms of activity with neither side being dominant over the other. Contrary to popular belief, one is not left-brained or right-brained, but both.

That being said, a recent review at Cornell University found that as little as ten minutes in nature went a long way towards relieving stress in college students. Balancing mental with physical activity and balancing nature with one’s life indoors is a useful remedy. Balance in all things as a way of life might be one of the more beneficial approaches to living that is available to all of us.

Thinking too much? Get out of doors.

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