Re: Language/Consciousness/Thinking

Chris Braiotta (cbraiott@NETOPE.HARVARD.EDU)
Fri, 2 Aug 1996 10:16:43 -0400

>I recently was told by a colleague that someone had done research on
>brain hemisphere and language with some Native American peoples and
>found that Native Americans who suffered damage to the left
>hemisphere of their brain, which would normally damage their language
>areas, experienced no such loss of language. The conjecture was that
>some Native American cultures may have evolved to process language
>in the right hemisphere since they are a "right-brained" society. I
>this very intriguing but my colleague couldn't produce any references for
>this information. Does anyone out there know anything about such

I don't know anything about this research (not surprisingly, as I'm a
layman. Hope that's ok), but that conjecture sounds pretty unlikely to me.
Humans haven't been around long enough, and certainly Native Americans
haven't been in the Americas long enough, for such a profound change to
take place.

At any rate, this whole right brain/left brain thing gets a lot of
airtime, but this sharp differentiation between the hemispheres is really
something of a false dichotomy. There's really not that much difference
between, the two...merely a TENDENCY (according to what I was taught, at
least) for one side to process certain functions, and the other to process
others. Quite often, one side of the brain can make up for deficiencies
caused by injury or trauma in the other side. Perhaps that's where their
culture's emphasis on "right-brainedness" comes into play, in the
seamless transition from one side to the other.

Does that make any sense?