An advertisement in the Inquirer for a new car model caught my attention because it illustrated a revolutionary theory of how the human brain works.
The ad showed two of the same woman’s head facing each other, smiling.
The caption on the left head: “My right brain says… ‘It gets me. So gorgeous. It never quits. Gets my chill on. Can’t stop smiling. Fits me perfectly.’”
The caption on the woman’s right head: “My left brain says… ‘Maneuverable, Stylish. Powerful. Comfortable. Amazing features.”
I wonder how many Inquirer readers recognized the scientific basis or theory behind this novel advertising presentation.
It actually refers to the remarkable discovery of neurobiologist Dr. Roger Sperry that, when we think, two different hemispheres of our brain are involved—depending on what we are thinking about.
The left hemisphere of our brain (neo-cortex) is responsible for verbal, critical, analytical and logical thinking, while our right brain is responsible for nonverbal, creative and emotional thinking.
We are ordinarily not aware that our thinking comes from either the left or right brain because the two hemispheres are connected to each other by the corpus callosum, composed of about 300 million neurons or brain cells—which allows the two halves of the brain to communicate to each other.
In a desperate attempt to help epileptic patients who could not find relief in drugs, Dr. Sperry and his colleagues experimented on making an incision on the corpus callosum, so that the left brain could not communicate with the right and vice versa. Upon recovering from the surgery, the patients appeared to be normal and could carry on their usual functions.
However, Dr. Sperry noticed certain changes in the behavior and thinking of these so-called “split-brain” patients. Familiar objects, like an apple given to the left hand of the patient was easily identified, but not when given to his right hand.
Another observation: A split-brain patient, asked to unbutton his shirt with his left hand, would button it up again with his right hand. He could not control his hand’s action.
Split brain theory
After a long series of such experimentation, Dr. Sperry was forced to conclude that we have, in effect, two brains: the left brain processes or perceives verbal, analytical and abstract thinking, while the right side processes creative, non-verbal and concrete thinking. It is also the side of the brain involved in emotional expression as well as depth and perspective.
Sperry’s “split brain theory” won for him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Medicine, although he was not a physician. He was a biologist.
His theory has, in fact, tremendous applications in various fields including neuroscience, psychology, personnel recruitment, business management, education and even advertising.
Its popularity has also inspired some interesting cartoon jokes, such as the following:
Two individuals are seated on a bench in a park. One who is holding a newspaper says, “This science column says that the left half of the brain is dominant in right handed people, and the right half is dominant in left handed people and that’s why left handed people are the only ones in their right minds.”
Another cartoon joke I saw in an old edition of Playboy magazine shows a man grabbing a woman by the waist, saying, “Forgive me, Caroline! My left brain says you’re not that kind of a girl. But my right brain says, ‘Go for it!’”
Some people really describe themselves as being either left or right brain without realizing that no one is completely left or right brained. We actually use both brains when we think.
So, an advertisement that appeals to both the left and right hemispheres of our brain will most likely get the best results.
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