Left Brain, Right Brain


About ten years ago, I[Dan Eden] saw an interesting exercise in which a college psychology professor had taken photographs of her students, made copies that were flipped left to right, and then had them cut in half vertically. She reassembled the images using the two similar sides of the face.

Which Nixon would you buy a used car from?
Nixon's left+left at the far left.
The center image is the normal, original portrait.
Nixon's right+right is on the right.

[A quick way to do this is to place a small mirror perpendicular to a photograph showing a good front face view. As you look into the mirror you can form a whole face from the reflection of either side.]

The composite pictures were humorous. Although the individuals were easily recognizable, their facial expressions seemed to express exaggerated emotions, like anger, suspicion, or happiness -- and occasionally a look of total blankness. Even more interesting was the observation that the two sides of the same face were often so different. Why?

This exercise seemed to suggest that, while a handful of people have symmetrical faces, a vast majority of us do not. Also it raised the possibility that each side of our face could express different emotions at the same time! Subsequent research into facial expressions and the workings of the human brain has offered an interesting theory that not only explains this left and right difference in facial expressions, but could help us to understand our "other self."

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