Dividing the hemispheres

Last night I decided to conduct an experiment using myself as a test subject (although, not quite in the Timothy Leary sort of way). I was curious what effects I would observe when reading with only one eye. Each eye sends information to the opposing brain hemisphere - information from the left eye goes to the right side of the brain, information from the right eye goes to the left side of the brain. Each hemisphere specializes in different functions and the way it interprets the world. The two hemispheres are joined by a bundle of nerves called the corpus callosum.

How would biasing which hemisphere received information affect my reading experience?

I lay down to read a short story called Dead Run. It is about a trucker who hauls souls to Hell (found in New Stories from The Twilight Zone).

I started by closing my right eye and quickly changed to simply covering my eye with my hand since it was more comfortable. Instead of propping up my head with my hand on my chin, I sort of propped up my head using my hand to cover my eye. I read three pages and then switched to cover my left eye.

I seemed to experience more emotional impact when I was reading with my left eye (sending information to the right hemisphere), which, according to research done this morning, seems to be correct. The right hemisphere is strongly associated with emotions.

Now, a few disclaimers and disclosures:

I have difficulty reading with my right eye because I have partial loss of vision in it. This is a result of a Toxoplasma Gondii infection I had in my right eye about 14 years ago. It damaged my retina near the optic nerve. I have no central vision, but I still possess peripheral vision. For the curious, what does the world look like through a damaged retina? There is nothing there. It is not dark, or light, it just isn't there.

This lack of central vision means it is a little awkward reading from the periphery of my vision. This may have affected emotional response, since I had to look at the words indirectly. Brain processing may be different for peripheral images than for centrally focused images. If I am not mistaken, peripheral vision is sensitive to motion.

Alternatively, since I had already been exposed to the story for 3 pages, my initial emotional response may have stabilized and became less noticeable for the remainder of the story. When I returned to reading with both eyes, I did not continue to have the same emotional response when I started the story.

As well, my corpus callosum is still intact. It is sometimes severed in epileptic patients, thus truly dividing the hemispheres - the way they receive and process information depends on which eye sees the information. For example, seeing a spoon with the right eye, they can name it. Seeing it with the left eye, they know what it is used for, but they cannot name it (language processing is in the left hemisphere).

A proper test would involve a number of subjects reading the story with one eye or the other and then compiling their responses.

I encourage you to try this out and tell me what your experiences are.


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Hey, what were you doing inhaling the cat litter fumes to get the infection?!! (Those darn cats!)

Firstly, of all, did you know the results of the study before doing this? Then you might have pre-conceived notions and self-fulfilling prophecy type thing happening to sway your thinking.

Secondly,Did you read 3 new pages or the same 3? Maybe the new material really did have more emotional impact possibilities.

Thirdly, what one person finds emotionally charged in a story, may not be what someone else finds this way. Some people react differently and may not show signs as demonstratively. Or they might not recognize the indicators. They're not concrete. Emotions are hard to quantitate.

Next, apparently, according to one of chiropractor I know, (HA!) the Corprus Callosum is constantly sending messages back and forth between the hemispheres and how would you know what exactly was shared?
And even before that happens, there is a Visual Interpretive Centre which shares information to give us a picture.

This is very interesting stuff, Richard. (Same as the info on whether you're right or left brain dominant)

I've had 2 detached retinas due to laser surgery (scarring pulled on retina as it contracted)for Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy, and have had 2 lens implants, plus a Vitrectomy (to vacuum up all the scar tissue) and I mostly depend on central vision.
Good thing peripheral is motion sensitive...especially when I'm backing out of the driveway! I should be an owl so I can do full circle with my head!!

(I'm glad you weren't a proponent of Timothy's research results! I'd go for coffee though! I experiment with that all the time! Sure raises the heart rate and BP!)
Richard said…
MOI: I got the infection after I moved into an apartment where the previous tenant had a cat - I guess I had not cleaned well enough after moving in.

I was aware that the brain hemispheres have different specialization. I was not consciously aware of the specific specialization - I had to look it up the next day.

You raise perfectly valid criticisms about additional weakness in the experiment. I certainly would not qualify that one test as the final word. I read a total of six pages for the experiment.

Yes, the corpus callosum joins the two hemispheres together and shares information between the hemispheres. Which may completely negate any effect of reading with one eye or the other - or not - hence, the need to experiment.

I was curious to know if it was possible to bias information assimilation by reading with only one eye. A practical application (if it were true) would be the acquisition of technical knowledge by biasing information flow into the left hemisphere.

There is a resurgent interest in using LSD to treat addictions. Apparently, a single controlled dose is sufficient to cure alcoholics and other addicts.

Eek! I certainly hope you have no more trouble with your vision.
You must be really senstitive to that virus from cats!

Thanks for all the background info. That sounds as if your theory on the flow of technical info would be a great application. I wonder if it would help you retain science/medical info?
If it did, med/vet/chiroptactic students should study by reading all their books with the right eye. They have an amazing volume of info to learn.

After 1 dose of LSD, maybe that's enough of a trip to last them a lifetime! That is of course, if they don't get addicted to it in the process!

My eyes for now are stable, but I'll never recover the peripheral vision, I miss so much. People can come up alongside me and I don't see them. I don't drive at night because the headlights bounce off the scar tissue where they lasered 1000 shots in each eye.
My depth perception is not good at night. I carry a flashlight in my purse for walking out of places at night. And, stangest of all, when my sugar goes low, I see lots of black spots...guess the oxygen? or nutrition from sugar? can't get through to the optic nerve cells. Should ask the doctor that one next time I go.
Richard said…
Actually, it is a protozoan parasite. It lives its life cycle in the cat's intestinal system. The feces carry the cysts, which are very resilient.

As I get older, I find it harder and harder to drive at night. When I was younger, I preferred to drive at night because of the lights, but now ... hmmm ... all seems to dark for me. Last night was terrible driving home, the rain was quite heavy and visibility poor.

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