"Oh my gosh, I'm having a stroke!"
When Jill Bolte Taylor suffered a stroke on December 10, 1996, the second thing that came to her mind was, "Wow, this is so cool! How many brain scientists get to study their brain from the inside out?!"
A blood vessel exploded in the left half of her brain, which contains the language center, leaving her unable to walk, talk, read, write or recall any of her life.
Taylor, a neuro anatomist, has been interested in brain research since she was a child, when her brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia. She wanted to understand the biological differences between the brain of someone like her brother, and her own brain. She wondered, 'I can connect my dreams to a common and shared reality, why can't he?'
Taylor set out to map the micro circuitry of the brain and became an advocate for NOMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Jill Taylor says information in the form of energy enters into our body through our sensory receptors. Our brain interprets this energy as a collage of the present moment - what does it look, smell, taste, feel and sound like?
We are all energy beings connected to the energy around us through the consciousness of our right hemisphere. In essence, Jill Bolte Taylor says we are connected to each other through the right brain consciousness.
Oprah Winfrey, in her commencement address at Duke University on May 10, 2009, mentioned Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor saying:
"One of my other favorite guests was a woman named Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, who’s a brain scientist, who had a stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. She wrote a book called "My Stroke of Insight." And so only the right hemisphere was working, and when she was in the hospital as a patient, she said she could sense through her right brain when a nurse would come into the room and meant her well, or when the nurse was thinking about what time she was going to be off that day. She could sense the energy that was brought into the room. And after a while, she put up a sign in the room that said to everyone who came in the room, you are responsible for the energy that you bring. I love that moment, because we are responsible for the energy that we bring to everything we do in life."
What is the difference between left brain, right brain thinking?
The cerebral cortices are separate. Jill Bolte Taylor says if you think of the brain as a computer, the right side of the brain functions as a parallel processor while the left serves as a serial processor. The two sides of the brain communicate through the corpus callosum employing over 300 million axonal fibers.
The two sides of the brain process information differently. They think about different things, care about different things and in essence have different personalities.
The right brain is focused on the present moment. It thinks in pictures and learns kinesthetically through the movement of our body.
While the right brain is focused on now, the left brain concentrates on the past and the future.
The left side of the brain is linear and methodical. It takes the sensory collage of the present moment and picks out the details. This information is categorized, organized and associated with our past. Or projected into possibilities for the future.
Read more about My Stroke of Insight.