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OF TWO MINDS
scientific papers with
some full text articles
Research on Dual-Brain psychology:
As described more fully in the answer
to the question, what is dual-brain psychology, dual brain psychology began
with my observation that my patients in psychotherapy seemed to have somewhat
distinct parts to their personalities, on more mature and one less so.
I then became reacquainted with the famous split-brain
and realized, as only a few neuroscientist had, that these studies demonstrated
that these patients essentially had two separated minds one associated with
each hemisphere. This gave rise to my idea that perhaps the two personalities
I felt I was seeing in my patients had to do with the left and right brains.
I began my first study in this are in 1990, when I proposed that my colleagues
and I use a sophisticated technique to look at brain activity in subjects
while they were performing a task. The technique is called the probe
evoked potential and is described and referenced in the
which I published with Martin Teicher and Andrew Papanicolaou. The
task I wanted to look at was having the subjects remember and upsetting or
traumatic memory as they might do in a therapy session and to compare that
with what we observed when the same subjects were remembering something unemotional
such as something they did the week before. I interviewed each subject
as I would had they been in the office with me for therapy. Ten subjects
had a history of significant psychological trauma as children and ten did
not. We found that the trauma group seemed to have more brain activity
in their right brains when they remembered their trauma and relatively more
activity in their left brains when they remembered the neutral memories.
We used averages for the group, so there were exceptions within the group.
The group who had not been traumatized as children, did not show as marked
shifts between the neutral and the emotional memories. This study led
me to feel that traumatic memories from childhood are preferentially stored
in the right brain and I wrote a review article suggesting a connection between
the right brain and the unconscious mind
I then decided
to try to study split-brain patients. Most studies on split-brain patients,
with a few exceptions, did not deal with psychology, but focused on the language
and special abilities of the two hemispheres. I wanted to test whether
the two hemispheres of split brain patients were different from a psychological
perspective. I had been in contact with Joseph Bogen, who is the neurosurgeon
who pioneered the split-brain operation and who was greatly involved in the
famous split-brain studies, and he thought the experiment I proposed might
be interesting and he put me in touch with his colleague, Eran Zaidel, who
agreed. I flew out to Los Angeles and in one weekend we completed an
entire study which was recently published. Click here to see the
The most fascinating finding which
we reported in the paper was that one patient told me he had been bullied
as a child. I asked him (his left brain) whether the bullying still
upset him, and he replied that of course it didn't, it happened 30 years
earlier. When we tested him we were able to ask questions separately
to both hemispheres and have each hemisphere answer with the left (right brain)
and right hands. Interestingly, his left hand indicated (speaking for
his left brain) that, as his left brain told me verbally, he was not upset
about the bullying. But, his left hand responses, speaking for his
right brain, indicated that he was extremely upset by the bullying even after
So this experiment was consistent
with what I thought I was seeing in my patients: two separate minds, perhaps,
one associated with each hemisphere. Still, this was just a very tentative
hypothesis based largely on my interactions with my patients. Then
one day I was reading some scientific literature and came across an interesting
article. In that paper by a German group of scientists led by Werner
Wittling, they reported that they could show movies to the left or right
brains of ordinary people. Essentially, they were showing the movie
to one side of the patient and the movie would apparently have more of an
affect on the opposite hemisphere. They found that depending on which
side of the person they showed the movie, the person's blood pressure, heart
rate, cortisol level, and emotional response would vary. The effects
were not very strong but they were statistically significant.
I decided to try a simple experiment.
I held my hands up and covered my eyes so that I could see only out of the
left side of my left eye, and asked myself how I felt. I felt fine
and no different than I ordinarily did. I then tried looking out the
other side, and again, not surprisingly, I felt no different. I wondered
what Wittling had actually found. Perhaps his findings were so small
that they weren't clinically relevant.
Another person might have left that
experiment there and gone on to reading another article. But, I had
to go to the office to see patients. There I decided, expecting nothing
much, to ask my first patient to block his vision as I had. He almost
immediately said, "Oh, my God!" "What's that?" I immediately replied,
and he said, "I've got all of my anxiety back." I asked him to try
looking out the other side and he said, "Oh, that feels great."
That day five patients of 8 had
similar intense responses. And as long as the person looked out that
view, he would seem to have a different perspective on the world than he
had looking out the other side. Out one side he manifest a more mature
personality and out the other a more immature personality. This was
exactly what I had expected from my psychological hypothesis. In my
book I present many transcripts of sessions using this technique (later
with taped safety goggles and then later with specially designed sunglasses).
If you want to try this your self, try my envelope test.
I then began using these lateralized
glasses as an adjunct to therapy with patients in my practice. You
can see a brief excerpt from my book, in which there is a
description of my using the glasses with a patient
. My book, Of Two Minds
, offers many such examples. Essentially, I see therapy as the
teaching of the immature side that it is safer and more valuable than it
had thought, and I have found that using these special glasses as an adjunct
to therapy can be of great value in those patient who are responsive to them.
A typical responsive patient might say, looking out one side, "I'm stupid
and lazy." With that view he will feel anxiety and depression.
Simply having him put on the opposite pair of glasses, waiting 15 seconds
and asking again how he feels about himself now gets an entirely different
response. "Hell, I'm the most ambitious person I know." His
anxiety and depression are gone! To experience this is a profound
experience, and is of course contrary to all of our expectations.
Even after having witnessed this phenomena hundreds of times, I still feel
amazed each time I see it.
Of course, I wanted to examine my
findings closely to make sure what I was finding was reproducible and that
it was not simply due to placebo effects or suggestion. The first study
I did was with new patients who came to see me. In 70 consecutive patients,
I asked them to put on taped safety goggles which allowed mainly out of
the side of one eye. There was a left and right sided pair. I asked
each patient to report their level of anxiety an a scale of: none, mild,
moderate, quite a bit, or extreme. I found 40% felt no difference
between sides, 35% felt a mild difference, and 23% felt at least a moderate
difference. In the last 40 of these patients I also had them look out
of two pairs of placebo goggles and I compared the differences between the
two experimental goggles and between the two control goggles. I found
that there was a much higher difference between the experimental goggles
than the controls and that that difference was very highly significant by
statistical tests. If you would like, you can read the
. One of things which I found was that not all of the patient's problems
were located in the right brains. About half felt their distress while
looking to the right visual field which was thought to activate relatively
the left brain. This observation made me review the work in the field
which held the view that most negative emotions were to be found in the
right brain. What I then realized is that all of that research was
based on average data and were generalized to all people. For example,
in a study of gender and height, an experimenter would find that men are
taller than women. But, to say that all men are taller than all woman
is false. I believe that there may be an on average tendency, depending
on which people you are studying, for the right brain to be more negative
emotionally, but I now believe that there are so many exceptions to this
as to make it almost meaningless.
We then went to our laboratory at
McLean and studied 15 male and female college students with EEG or brain wave
studies as well as emotional responses. What we found was that the
left sided goggles strongly shifted the EEG's indicating a relative activation
of the right hemisphere and that the right sided goggles did the opposite.
The results were highly significant statistically. We also used the
control goggles which were not expected to create an EEG shift, and they
did not. The college students had changes in anxiety with the experimental
goggles but not with the control goggles. If you would like, you can
read the published paper
So far we have published two placebo
control studies (and have a third which we haven't yet submitted for publication)
and all show statistically very significant differences between the emotional
responses to the experimental goggles versus the control goggles. A
paper is submission which reports an experiment from a Boston Harvard teaching
hospital in which 37 severely depressed patients were given the goggles
and 95% had at least a small difference between how depressed they felt
on one side versus the other; 65% had a marked difference. Several
other studies are in progress.
On other piece of evidence has been
my experience in my practice with using the goggles or the sunglasses as
an adjunct to the patient's psychotherapy. I have continued to observe
remarkable personality changes in about 30% of my patients and these changes
are persistent from one week to another, and occur as soon as the patient
puts on the glasses. I have found that patients who respond to the
glasses seem to have the best outcomes. Over time their troubled side
is no longer troubled.
On last piece of evidence is the
work of many other scientists who's work is published in the medical literature.
I have reviewed this work in my papers, especially the paper describing my
first use of the goggles in my therapy patients
. A more complete review of this literature is in my book,
Of Two Minds
, which puts forth the complete arguments in support of
my ideas. A review article offers a summary of my hypotheses
Research on the hypothesis continues. For the past
year I have been using a technique for measuring brain blood flow called Near
Infra-Red Spectroscopy as an index of brain activation in the left and right
frontal cortices with the experimental goggles and placebo controls. Recently,
we have begun studies using functional MRIs and the goggles to try to acess
brain activity in response to the goggles. These studies are in progress.
A recent publication reports a study using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation,
an experimental treatment for depression, and the goggles as a baseline.
This study found that the goggles used as a baseline test could predict
which severely depressed patients would respond to electromagnetic activation
of their left frontal corticies. TMS paper
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