Brain Matters: The divided mind

Thursday 12 April 2012, 19.00-20.00

Illustration of brain

Listen to an edited recording of this event. Download the MP3.

Iain McGilchrist has had a unique career. He began as a literary academic but then switched to medicine, becoming a neuroimaging researcher at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, USA. Then he moved on to psychiatry and, until recently, was a consultant psychiatrist in London. He has been elected to Fellowships of All Souls College, Oxford, and of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Now he is a full-time writer, living on the Isle of Skye.

His book 'The Master and his Emissary: The divided brain and the making of the modern world' has received global acclaim. It is a sweeping history of the human mind seen from cultural, spiritual and physical perspectives. McGilchrist identifies a conflict between the two hemispheres of the brain - the left being more rational and calculating, the right being more creative. Modernity, he argues, is very much a product of left-brain thinking, which has resulted in a suppression of creativity and spirituality in favour of more machine-like thinking.

Has our civilisation suffered from a failure to manage the binary division of our brains?


Bryan Appleyard, author and journalist.

Dr Iain McGilchrist, psychiatrist and writer.

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