Threesology Research Journal
Brain Hemisphere Attributes I

(The Study of Threes)

Let's begin this page by starting off with a short poem about Two's:


Why are lots of things in twos?
Hands on clocks, and gloves and shoes,
Scissor-blades, and water-taps,
Collar studs, and luggage straps,
Walnut shells, and pigeons? eggs,
Arms and eyes and ears and legs--
Will you kindly tell me who?s
So fond of making things in twos?

John Drinkwater - 1882-1937

  1. Perhaps when the poem was written most clocks were being designed with only an hour and minute hand. With the advent of the second hand, we have three.

  2. While having a pair of gloves is customary, gloves can be fully-fingered, partially-fingered, or of the mitten type, though multiple specialized gloves are designed as well.

  3. As for shoes, we could mention the two tongues and our own tongue, not to mention that some people "run" at the mouth.

  4. While scissor-blades remain two, shaving blades have progressed from a single to a four-blade variety at this Jan. 15th 2012 writing. However, cooling fan blades remain predominantly three-bladed, lawn mower blades can have one or more, but ice skates still spout a single blade.

  5. Water-taps still come in the hot/cold designations although we now frequently see faucets designed with a single handle and in some stores, public restrooms have automatic dispensing water spouts.

  6. In terms of changing fashions, we don't see too many people wearing either collar studs or cuff links very often.

  7. With respect to luggage straps, most now have one or more zippers, with a few suitcases still sporting the old fold-down metal clasps.

  8. Walnut shells still come in two halves and most of us generally think in terms of opening a shell by divisionary terms, even if the "two" is not specific.

  9. At this moment, i'm not familiar with the quantity of eggs that pigeons may or may not have at any one time.

  10. Most people are still born with two arms, eyes, ears and legs, though some people have attempted to carry a quantity of items suggesting three arms, say they have a third (mind's) eye and third (intuitive) ear, as well as using their mouth as if it were a third hand and using a cane as if it were a third leg.

  11. But so much for the playful musing. Let me now direct your attention towards examples of our brain's so-called two-hemispheres, noting that the sources seem to customarily dispense with a recognition of the reptilian brain.

    Take a look at the following examples which concern the old view that the attributes of the Brain can be placed into a two-patterned formula that generally reflect a dichotomy of one extreme or another. With respect to each example, please give all credits to the respective authors. Links to the sites from which the following information is derived, are provided at the end of each example.

    Ehrenwald (1984: 16) has classified important differences between the hemispheres as follows:

    General Left-Right brain attributes

    Left Hemisphere Aspect Right Hemisphere
    Abstract, linear, analytic Thinking Concrete, holistic
    Rational, logical Cognitive style Intuitive, artistic
    Rich vocabulary, good grammar and syntax; pose Language No grammar, syntax; prosody, poor vocabulary metaphoric, verse
    Introspection, will, initiative, sense of self, focus on trees Executive capacity Low sense of self, low initiative, focus on forest
    Reading, writing, arithmetic, sensory-motor skills; inhibits psi Specialized functions Three i's, music, rich dream imagery, good face and gestalt recognition, open to psi
    Sequentially ordered, measured Time experience "Lived" time, primitive time sense
    Relatively poor Spatial orientation Superior, also for shapes, wire figures
    Secondary process, ego functions, consciousness; superego? Psychoanalytic aspects Primary process, dream-work, free assoc. hallucinations?
    Aristotle, Appollonian mode, Marx, Freud, Koestler's Commissar Ideal prototype Plato, Dionysian mode, Nietzsche, Jung Koestler's Yogi

    --- Hemisphere Specialization ---

    Parallel ways of knowing
    (J. E. Bogen)

    (Left Hemisphere) (Right Hemisphere)
    Intellect Intuition
    Convergent Divergent
    Digital Analogic
    Secondary Primary
    Abstract Concrete
    Directed Free
    Propositional Imaginative
    Analytic Relational
    Lineal Non-lineal
    Rational Intuitive
    Sequential Multiple
    Analytic Holistic
    Objective Subjective
    Successive Simultaneous
    The Duality of Yin & Yang
    (I Ching)

    Yin Yang
    Feminine Masculine
    Negative Positive
    Moon Sun
    Darkness Light
    Yielding Aggressive
    Left side Right side
    Warm Cold
    Autumn Spring
    Winter Summer
    Unconscious Conscious
    Right brain Left brain
    Emotion Reason

    L-mode R-mode
    L-mode is the "right-handed," left-hemisphere mode. The L is foursquare, upright, sensible, direct, true, hard-edged, unfanciful, forceful. R-mode is the "left-handed," "right-hemisphere mode. The R is curvy, flexible, more playful in its unexpected twists and turns, more complex, diagonal, fanciful.

    Left Brain Right Brain
    Step-by-step reasoning Mystical
    Logical Musical
    Mathematical "Creative"
    Speaking Visual-pictorial
    Dominates right brain Submissive to the left brain
    Pattern user Pattern seeker

    --- The Left and Right side of the brain ---

    Laterality: Key Functions of the Two Hemispheres


    Successive or Sequential

    Logical Expression

    Focal Perception (naming objects)


    Sense of Time


    Discrete Representation




    Verbal Intelligence

    Abstract Reasoning

    Quantifiable Knowledge

    Mathematical Calculation


    Gestalt Expression

    Orientational Awareness


    Present Centeredness


    Diffuse Representation


    Visio-Spatial (Configurational)


    Performance Intelligence

    Concrete Perceptual Insight

    Existential or Experiential Knowledge

    Apprehension and Transformation
    of Patterns and Relations (Visual Thinking)

    Gestalt Thinking: Learning to see and record the world in terms of wholes, whose properties are so unified that they cannot be derived from their parts. Gesture drawing exercises attempt to record the gestalt without the analytical details.

    Analytical (Visual) Thinking: The mental act of separating a visual whole into its elemental parts so that one or more of them can be studied in depth. In visual analytical thinking, mental skill must be expressed in an observable activity that communicates clearly the degree of learning; verbalization about the nature of the learning must never replace appropriate visual expression.

    Related Concepts:

    Observation: The act of seeing, noticing and recording.  In artistic terms, seeing implies that the individual takes full responsibility for the visual information that the eyes take in and the brain processes.  If focused and critical attention is not paid to the information presented to the eyes and then recorded, however quickly and sketchy, observation becomes a fleeing mental activity which cannot serve as the basis for sound, extended visual thinking.

    ETC: An acronym is created by Robert Mckin to describe the "feedback loop" necessary for graphic development of visual ideas. The letters stand for the three phases in the creative thinking cycle; Expression, Testing, and Cycling back to expression.

    Metaphoric thinking is a substitutional mental process in which implicit comparisons are made between qualities of objects which are usually considered in separate classifications. By poetically sensing and analogically developing the hidden connections between these normally separated qualities, the student is able to synthesize new mental constructs as forms that may be called creative. With the great over emphasis in education on making clear, linear, and literal connections, the synthesis of new evocative forms is an important productive thinking skill for all students who hope to do more than memorize information.

    Related Concepts:

    Quickness: The ability to grasp the essence of a configuration, whether in the imagination or exterior environment, with a quick thumbnail sketch.

    Thumbnail Sketches: Small, quickly drawn configuration studies done more for the study of a visual thought than as a finished work of art.

    Scaffold Thinking: A scaffold, in building construction terms, is a raised framework that can support the many things needed for the job. A visual scaffold is the structural basis of an artistic configuration (the main structural lines and forces) upon which any number of elements and details can be supported to accomplish the job of visual communication (an artwork's underlying composition or visual structure). "Grasping the Glimpse" of a gestalt and not concentrating on the many pieces of visual identifying information is the use of scaffold thinking in artistic thought.

    Visual Thinking Definition:

    Visual thinking refers to a group of generative skills that, when practiced with rigorous discipline, results in the production of novel and original graphic ideas. By seeking to discover visual forms that fit his/her underlying human experience, the student of visual thinking comes to know the world. This practice of thinking with images alone is stressed in NAB in order to balance the over-emphasis on verbal reasoning in other areas of education. Visual thinking is high order critical thinking conducted by imaginistic means alone. (Visual Thinking is that which relates to the arrangement and manipulation of configurational elements.)

    --- Key Functions of the Two Hemispheres ---

    The following generalizations form a dichotomy and when that dichotomy is applied recursively these generals get 'mixed' and a hierarchy of distinctions emerge, in fact the 'discreteness' seems to develop into a continuum based on 'interdigitations' of the basic discrete elements. Note that the left thread serves as an interpreter, it deals with expression, assertion of 'truths' regardless of their reality (and so a link to delusion). The left thread favors precision, an emphasis on the 'one', and in doing so as quickly as it can so it can mis-interpret with a degree of justification, with rationalizations, that the delusion can be maintained for some time. The following list is some of the characteristic biases identified and are reflective of this asymmetry. The distinctions of 'thread' are used to emphasize the weaving nature within these distinctions in that they apply at all scales from hemispheres to lobes within hemispheres to neural nets within lobes to the neuron itself. All characteristics are based on comparisons of one side to the other:

    Left Thread

    Right Thread

    Particular General
    Local Non-Local
    Objects Relationships
    The ONE The MANY
    Precise (quantitative precision) Approximate (qualitative precision)
    What (Who,Which) Where (How, When)
    Tonic Harmonic
    Internal Linkage (within) External Linkage (Between)
    Syntax/Semantics Semantics/Percepts
    Single Context Multi Context
    Exaggerate, Distort AS-IS
    Known Unknown
    Ordered Disordered
    Non-Change Change
    Ordinality Cardinality
    What IS What IS NOT
    delusion illusion
    repression suppression
    What WILL BE What COULD BE
    +1/-1 zero/infinity
    Text Context
    Foreground Background
    Quantitative Qualitative
    Expression Behind Expression
    Self Others
    The Dot The Field
    Particle Interpretations Wave Interpretations
    Metonymy (part-for-whole) Metaphor (whole-for-whole)
    Axon-like (pulse, FM = SEQUENCE, Ordinality) Dendrite-like (wave amplitude, AM = SIZE, Cardinality)
    neuron synaptic 'soup'***
    dopamine biased (internal linkage emphasis, internal integrity) serotonin biased (external linkage emphasis, social integrity)
    psychosis, schizophrenia neurosis, depression
    identify re-identify
    blend, bound (feeling terms for whole, parts) bond, bind (feeling terms for statics, dynamics)
    Vectoring Way pointing

    --- Brain Hemispheres ---

    Note: If we can assume that the reference to a synaptic 'soup' in the above list has some similarity to the process of a "primordial soup" that is thought to have occurred billions of years ago in the development of biological life as we presently know it, this may suggest that early life/geophysical/universe processes were more in line with what we would term a right-hemisphere orientation, but are becoming more left hemisphere oriented as we "progress." Instead of natural processes developing conditions which promote and insure an ever larger diversity of life forms, extinctions are part of a larger overall cosmological process directed towards a sort of left hemisphere type of singularity and not a right hemisphere form of multiplicity.

    Hence, while humanity associates some sentimental and political policy value to words and actions revolving around ideas related to diversity, plurality, multiplicity, etc., in actual reality, the Universe is moving towards a type of specificity that the word "singularity" is but a present day human defined metaphor of explanation. We find this specificity being expressed by many mystics, gurus, metaphysicists, theologians, new age philosophies, etc., in their concepts of:

    • Unity
    • Being one with nature
    • Being one with the cosmos
    • Being one with the creator, etc...

    All such labels refer to a specificity of singular activity and not a generality implying diversity. Such notions of "oneness" are clearly references to the left hemisphere even though the contemporary notion is that mystics (etc.,) are those who have learned to become more in touch with the gestalt attributes of the right hemisphere as opposed to the "Uni" (one)-directed attributes of the left hemisphere. Clearly one could argue that most interpretations related to which hemisphere is actually central to the foundation of mystical thought, is left hemisphere directed. Such a reversal of interpretation is much in the manner of Copernicus and Gallileo saying to established authoritative views that the (left hemisphere) Sun is the center of the Universe and not the (right hemisphere) Earth. Such a distinction implies that present authority figures in psychology, theology, metaphysics, etc., have been extolling their own form of self-righteous self-centeredness because the right hemisphere represents a link with a traditional form of human speciality, just as the view of the Earth being the center of the Universe, or man being the center of God's attention, were traditional views that were once vigorously guarded by ancient authority figures.

    Thus, in applying such a view to a contemporary human activity, one could consider that inter-racial dating/mating is not a unity related to a paradigm of the Universe, but is an impulsively derived emotional perpetuation of a diversity that goes against the grain of nature and the larger overall focus of the cosmos. In other words, they are permitting themselves to be directed by the nature of social circumstances that provide for an "accommodation" to express hormonal impulses (through intimidation, manipulation, coercion, sympathy for those who portray themselves as victims, underdogs, etc.), and yet are out of sync with the nature of the cosmos.

    Asymmetry suggests specialization and complementarity:

    Left Brain
    • identifies words
    • assigns meaning
    • follows rules and schedules
    • interprets
    • factual and detailed
    • emotionally positive
    • analyzes
    • uses symbols & ideas for sensations
    • orderly
    • critical
    • anxious
    • methodical
    • classifies and judges
    • processes sequentially
    • linear
    • objectifies
    Right Brain
    • identifies patterns
    • assigns value
    • follows daydreams and impulses
    • imagines
    • visual and conceptual
    • emotionally negative
    • synthesizes
    • values sensation for itself
    • spontaneous
    • dreamy
    • suspicious
    • random
    • plays and responds
    • processes simultaneously
    • meandering
    • animates

    --- Facing The Shadow ---

    Music and the Brain:

    Music and Left-Brain Strategies

    The left hemisphere generally handles symbolic activities like language and logic.

    In music listening, we use strategies of the left brain when we:
    • Analyze & recognize form
    • Analyze intervals & harmony
    • Identify familiar melodies
    • Recognize rhythms
    A person following the harmonic progressions of a composition might be using the strategies of the left hemisphere.
    Music and Right-Brain Strategies

    The right hemisphere perceives directly, handling spatial tasks, abstractions, and intuitive leaps.

    In music listening, we use strategies of the right brain when we:
    • Perceive the "big picture"
    • Judge pitch
    • Track new melodies & harmonies
    • Imagine music
    A person listening to the overall effect of the music might be using the strategies of the right hemisphere.

    --- Left Brain ---

    --- Right Brain ---

    --- Music and the Brain ---

    For another reference to the brain and music:

    --- Music of the Hemispheres ---

    Simplified chart of hemispheric specialization:

    Divisions of the brain into two parts

    --- Chapter Three: Right Brain/Left Brain ---

    (The link to the above chart is provided under the section "Conclusions about hemispheric specialization." I took some liberty in coloring the figures.)

    Here's another view that is similar to the above chart:

    Various attributes of left and right brain hemispheres

    However, when we look at the assigned culturally recognized attributes of the brain, we can see a distinct (over-lapping) 1-patterned, or 2-patterned, or 3-patterned arrangement that is not being taught in psychology classes, because the distinction has not been recognized:

    Left Hemisphere
    (Predominantly 3-patterned)

    3-part Math:

    3-part Logic:
    Major Premise
    Minor Premise

    3-part Time Sequencing:
    Seconds~ Minutes~ Hours
    Past~  Present~ Future
    Day~ Week~ Month

    3-part Language:

    3-part Right Body Side:
    Tri-cuspid heart valve
    Three-lobed lung
    Right Hemisphere
    (Predominantly 2-patterned)

    2-part Holistic:
    Macro versus Micro
    Whole versus Part
    Inner versus Outer

    2-part Music:
    Major Scale vs Minor Scale
    Loud versus Soft (Quiet)
    Consonance vs Dissonance

    2-part Visuospatial: (Art)
    Background vs Foreground
    Light vs Dark (Contrasts)
    1 Dimension vs 2 Dimensions

    2-part Emotions:
    Pain versus Pleasure
    Positive vs Negative
    Love versus Hate

    2-part Left Body Side:
    Bi-cuspid heart valve
    Two-lobed lung
    In ancient times, it was once thought that a male child was generated from the right testicle and a female child from the left testicle. This right side = male and left side = female is in keeping with the cross-referencing pattern related to brain hemisphere functioning controlling the opposite side of the body, as seen when a person has a stroke. Hence, the male comes from right-brain functioning and the female from left-brain functioning.
    (Predominantly 1-Patterned)

    (Self)-Preservation~ (Self)-Procreation~ (Self)-Preeminence

    Some additional two-patterned references found in music:
    • Tension and Release
    • Staccato and Legato
    • Slow and Fast
    • Ascending and Descending

    It can clearly be seen that the (Reptilian) brain is focused on singularity (one- in terms of a "self" centeredness), the right hemisphere is focused on duality (two), and the left hemisphere is focused on patterns-of-three. However, I do not wish to imply that it is always a conscious focus. It is of interest to note that when we use the left hemisphere attribute "analysis" to define qualities of the right hemisphere, we often-times assign an additional third criteria in one form or another to the two-patterned references. When we use the right hemisphere attribute "viewing" (recognizing) to define qualities of the left hemisphere, we often-times alter the 3-part descriptions into 2-part "portraits." For example, and generally speaking:

    Left Hemisphere "analyzing" Right Hemisphere:

    Holistic may acquire the additional term "Synergy" or "Unity";
    Music can develop a Triadic structure;
    Art acquires a 3rd dimension and 3-color (trichromatic) theory;
    Emotion is assigned words (in a 3-word fashion) such as Compassion, Patience, and Empathy.

    Right Hemisphere "viewing" Left Hemisphere:

    Math may be seen as Give & Take;
    Logic may become a Mind/Body dichotomy (that philosophers argue about for centuries);
    Time is related to Life & Death;
    Language is perceived as High & Low pitch.

    Left Hemisphere "analyzing" Reptilian characteristics:

    Left Hemisphere attributes may develop three criteria which distinguish a (3 in 1) singular nature, such as arousal, motivation, and impulse.

    Right Hemisphere "viewing" Reptilian characteristics:

    Right Hemisphere attributes may picture the basic drives as the seat of emotion whereby a type of kinship alliance is formulated in order to maintain the idea of a dual brain by not permitting the "Reptilian Brain" a separate entity status.

    It is not yet certain to what extent (if any) a reptilian brain is aware of those (left/right) brain attributes which exceed its own capacities. In other words, how much of an advanced brain can a primitive brain know? To use a simple analogy, how much can the brain of a human know the brain of a god? In the present instance, the development of the right and left hemisphere characteristics far exceed those of the reptilian, even though some would argue that any degree of overlapping nullifies the usage of an analogy that suggests one is god-like and the other is extremely primitive.

    Note: In the many philosophical inquiries into discerning why the right and left sides of the body appear to reflect a "mirror image" symmetry, we should consider the genetic basis for this as being the result of an early environmental influence during life's pristine genesis. It is rather easy to consider this possibility when we can find a mirror image form of symmetry in geologic formations such as that with the Juan de Fuca Ridge off the coast of Vancouver. This formation of alternating "stripes" of molten rock crust is said to be due to geomagnetic reversals. If we can find such an alternating pattern of geomagnetic reversals in geologic formations, it is not too difficult to consider that the sensitive, impressionable, "highly suggestible" building blocks of life over billions of years may also have adapted to this environmental influence in some measure.

    We must consider the possibility that the geomagnetic reversals occurred at a (accelerated?) rate sufficiently "tuned" to the "frequency" necessary for affecting biological-specific formations. In stating such, the connection between magnetic and electrical forces could be understood as degrees of symmetry necessary for our understanding the relationship between electro-magnetism and gravity, for which many physicists have sought a mathematical formula to explain such a relationship.

    Additionally, we find (impulsively) rendered attempts to define the "whole" (as yet only) human brain as an inherently polarized structure by those "portraying" various 2-part (opposite) descriptions. {Recall "whole" & "impulsive" are attributes of the Right Hemisphere.} The following sample list is a 2-patterned holistic [gestalt] appraisal of the human brain which actually proceeds along a 1- 2- 3 maturational sequence, but this is not to imply that the entire sequence is always achieved. Not all individuals reach each successive stage at the same time, in the same manner, or completely.

    For links to various brain-related websites:

    --- Think Blade ---

    Note: In August of 2008 I had to replace and clean the spider fuel injection system on a 1994 Chevrolet Blazer with a 4.3 (Vortec) engine. I removed the intake manifold as part of a general cleaning procedure and realized, when replacing it with new gaskets [with some difficulty,] that the inside left (driver's side) portion of the manifold required three bolts and that the inside right (passenger's side) portion of the manifold required two bolts to secure it to the cylinder head. Externally, the outside of the left side took two bolts and the right side took three. One must wonder how frequent such a three versus two arrangement occurs in various other applications and whether such a set-up is due to a cultural influence or some basic physiological/psychological impression being expressed in this symbolic form of representation.

    Your Questions, Comments or Additional information are welcomed:
    Herb O. Buckland