Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Split Brain Research

Some of you might find this interesting.  While the experience of being born with this condition, as I was myself is very different, there are still very strong similarities.  Because this individual was born with a corpus collosum he experienced normal development in all of the expected areas.

Those of us born with ACC have learned from an early age to compensate in many areas, while I actually can perform some of the tasks that the gentleman in this video finds difficult or impossible.  Those of us born with the condition, can demonstrate difficulty with coordination, "higher" or left brain reasoning skills (inference), and impared social skills (we often misinterpret "social cues".)   Around the age of 12 the CC of "normal children" begins to speed up, become more efficient.  This necessary part of human development helps the individual compare his or her internal experience with that which they are experiencing in the "outside world," hence the beginning of more complicated social interaction.  Those of us born with ACC often show marked lack of development in this area.

Many studies are also revealing this may be because (and in my case, after neuropsychiatric studies) shows that is is occuring when we try to access these fine social cues.  You may not realize it, but spoken language is a very important but incomplete picture of how humans communicate.  Without reference of what is being spoken, most would be lost in an average conversation.   Studies indicate that ACC individuals can demonstrate great difficulty understanding gestures and more particularly facial expressions that "fill in" or give the "context" that the communication is conveying.

Personally, I am beginning to learn how to deal with this, by asking myself (telling myself in each circumstance) that it is likely if I don't pay attention to other details that I will misinterpret what I am hearing/seeing/experiencing.  At the very least, this attitude has begun to take the pressure off, and I don't feel that I need to respond immediately.  I can reserve even just a few seconds, which may or may not even be noticable by the person or persons I'm communicating with, and look for other clues that might give me more "context."

The research on split brain has actually gone on for some time now, at least as long as they have been removing the corpus callosum to stop severe seizure activity, but as I mentioned above, while we share much in common with these peoples, our experience is still quite different.

I have always had the internal experience that I was "two people."  I don't mean this in a Sybil Dorset way, describing dissociative identity disorder (what used to be called "split personality.")  Rather, the way I can describe it is that I am two people, fully conscious of each other, experiencing the world differently, but "joined at the back" like a conjoined twin.  Just like in a conjoined twin, one will become dominant, and the other more passive.  In my personal case I observe that I am largely in my right hemisphere, I see the "big picture" have incredible long term memory or wholistic memory, feeling, emotion, but don't function well in areas where I'm called upon to use inference, logic, etc.

In recent years, especially after having received a diagnosis of ACC, I no longer look at this part of my life in horror, but an oddity, that I am perfectly me, even if very different.  I've come to understand, and accept (even embrace) that I experience the world differently from the "average" person.  Although I have a 'hole' in my head I am a 'whole' person; I experience the world uniquely in my own special way.
~Just Joe

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