Saturday, May 7, 2011

Left Hemisphere Stroke: TED talk of Dr. Jill Taylor

Here are my notes from the TED talk of Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist who experienced a left hemisphere stroke. She describes her experience and the effect of the stroke and recovery. The video is a very good account of the cognitive effects of a right hemisphere predominant brain. I could not help but wonder about Congressman Giffords and how some of her experiences might parallel those of Dr. Taylor.

I studied brain science because my brother suffers from schizophrenia
Dedicated career to severe mental illness
Studied with Francine Bennett at Harvard
Research focused on differences between normals and schizophrenia/bipolar disorder

I also traveled advocating for NAMI-National Alliance for Mental Ill
12/10/1996 awoke to discover she had a stroke
Over 4 hours brain function deteriorated-could not walk, talk or remember
Demonstrates real human brain showing the left and right 
Left brain functions like a serial processor
Right brain functions as parallel processor
Corpus callosum functions to connect two brain sides

Right hemisphere about right here, right now
Information streams in to right hemisphere from body sensations
Left hemisphere thinks linearly and methodically
Left hemisphere all about past and about the future
Left hemisphere thinks in language
Left hemisphere speaks to us and says "I am"
This is the portion of my brain that I lost

Stroke produced severe pain
She tried to work out on her exercise machine
She noted distorted perception of her body and a feeling of depersonalization
She could no longer define the boundary of her body
The left hemisphere of her brain went silent
She became focused on the energy entering her body (right brain effect)
She felt euphoric but left brain said "You have got to get help"

She describes effect of stroke on efforts to try to remember phone number and dial the phone
She couldn't speak as she connected with coworker on phone
A ambulance transferred her to Massachusetts General Hospital
She lost consciousness fully expecting to die
But she awoke later in the day surprised she had survived
She felt like she was experiencing Nirvana
She thought this Nirvana experience could be experienced by others

It took her 8 years to completely recover from the stroke
"Who Are We?"
We can choose to step into the experience of the left or right brain
The more we chose to focus on right experience we will experience peace and the more peace we will project into the world

Direct link to Dr. Taylors TED video here.

Website of Dr. Taylor in information about her book Stroke of Insight

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