Reply To: The Salience Network

  • Lucy Fleetwood

    June 8, 2023 at 11:08 am

    What an interesting conversation. I have a couple of questions, and please forgive me if I seem a little ignorant, I am at the beginning of my learning.

    First, does Dr McGilchrist say that the LH is running away? I thought he suggested that our culture conditions us to use the LH over the RH, which perhaps has a different understanding/meaning?

    And “LH deserting its station…” , gives a feel of the LH being a thing that is doing something, rather than a way of attending and acting in the world, and perhaps that gives a slightly different understanding to this conversation, or perhaps I’m just misreading the meaning of theses words, words are such blunt intstruments.

    Second, ‘…I might speculate on how one might involve one hemisphere more than the other…’ This intrigued me. I trained in hypnotherapy, and part of that training talked about the left pre-frontal cortex being the intelligent, reflective, spacious part of the brain, able to imagine and come up with positive thoughts and scenarios, and this was contrasted with the survival brain which can only respond from a place of negativity, anxiety, anger, depression and obsession (not necessarily all!). The view is that as stress builds the brain has a metaphorical stress bucket which it empties each night during REM sleep, but because REM sleep is only about 20% of our sleep cycle the brain doesn’t always manage to process all the stress, and when that metaphorical stress bucket starts to fill up we start to operate from the survival brain. The idea being that when stress levels in that metaphorical bucket become too high the person cannot function from the left pre-frontal cortex and the thinking becomes negative, with the inability to reflect and the brainwaves shift from beta (everyday consciousness) to high beta. The solution, we are taught, is to engage the person in solution focused conversation to start getting the positive neural networks firing up again, and relax them into a light trance state that is similar to day dreaming. And so I was thinking, perhaps this process is a way of helping people shift from the LH to the RH, for those whose brain is operating from the survival brain (for instance, the survival brain can cut out the functioning of the left pre-frontal cortex when there is a post traumatic stress disorder that is triggered). But I have to say I am confused, in that the LH has been assigned with a lack of spacious thinking, and I have been taught that the left pre-frontal cortex is the reflective positive part of the brain, I wondered if you had any thoughts regarding all this?

    Thirdly, I find this really interesting and wondered if others had any thoughts around it? “I find in many of the discussions on this channel, LH and RH are referred to as if they are discrete entities, and on the verge of assuming they control consciousness rather than are vehicles for it, or perhaps more accurate, simply reflect – as does all matter – activities of consciousness….”

    Fourthly, does Dr McGilchrist really say that “…RH activity more often correlates with depressed feelings,” – I’m sorry for my lack of knowing this, but I am wondering if there is a context to when and how he said this? The reason I ask is because my understanding is that the RH is where we attend and operate from when we have spiritual experiences that are euphoric, blissful and awakened?

    Many thanks if you have read to the end.