Brain mapping

Michael Raffety


When I started taking studio art classes the assumption was that language skills were left-brain work and art was right brain work. Since I was working on both I figured I was using both halves of the brain. But that was “previous studies,” as noted in an April 28 Wall Street Journal report on recent research. The article by Robert Lee Hotz reported studies by neuroscientists at UC Berkeley.

What the researchers did was read seven 10-to-15-minute stories to volunteers.

They used magnetic resonance imagining to reveal areas of the brain affected by “meaning of the words in stories told aloud.”

As noted by a color photograph of the brain, these stories lit up 100 areas of the cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain with 20 billion neutrons involved in memory, perception and awareness.

“These are maps of the meaning of language, not the words themselves,” UC Berkeley neuroscientist Jack Gallant told the WSJ. “The brain somehow represents the concepts in this smooth gradient distributed across the brain.”

So, apparently language involves both sides of the bran. It’s a good be that art involves both sides as well. The dichotomy is now obsolete.

. . .

 Last year we left our son and daughter-in-law’s house after Christmas morning and caught an airplane for New York City. We returned home on New Year’s Day. Our mission was to enjoy the Christmas windows at Macy’s and along the fabulous stores on Fifth Avenue. It didn’t take us long to figure out that everyone in New York State and New Jersey also wanted to walk Fifth Avenue as well. We also wanted to see as many Broadway shows as possible –- strictly musicals and comedies and anything with David Hyde Pierce, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. On that trip we hit the Broadway trifecta.

The real fun with New York City is the unexpected adventure or encounter. We had a number of those and I have to say they were all positive. But the real unexpected encounter was taking the elevator down at our boutique hotel with Fox News Los Angeles-based news correspondent and breaking new anchor Trace Gallagher. He was wearing a fashionable trench coat. He had been in New York to meet with the Fox Cable News hierarchy and was headed back to L.A.

Trace was just like you see him on Fox News -– a personable guy who has a believable TV news persona. It was totally fun taking the elevator down with him – a real down-to-earth unpretentious guy who at the same time was totally self-confident. I think about the elevator conversation every time I see him giving a report on Megyn Kelly from the Fox’s West Coast Newsroom.

.  . . .

 Everybody assumes celebrities are smart and sophisticated people. Maybe not so much. Consider this Associated Press story from the April 18 Sacrament Bee.

A survey of 500 members of AIP by the L.A. Times found that three out of four who registered with the American Independent Party thought they were checking the box to be “independent,” meaning nonpartisan.. They did not really comprehend the politics of AIP. Celebrities did not realize they had enrolled in a political party that advocates far right positions.

There was one member of the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors in the late 1970s who was a member of he American Independent Party, an ultra far right party. How far right? Try Alabama segregationist Gov. George Wallace. He only served one term on the Board of Supervisors and he was out of there.

Among the cognoscenti who thought they were registering as “independents,” which really means “decline to state,” were Demi Moore, Emma Stone, Sugar Ray Leonard and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s son Patrick Schwarzenegger.

They could have chosen more carefully. They could have chosen the Rock and Roll Party. Yes, that is a really party on the ballot.






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