There were two things that caught my attention today in lectures. The first was a list of symptoms of mania (an abnormal emotional state, the opposite of depression):
i. Unfounded elation
iii. Talkativeness and “flight of ideas”
v. Impractical, grandiose plans
vi. Inflated self-esteem
vii. Reduced sleep
…and I thought, ‘I wonder if I know anyone who has those symptoms…’
The other thing that caught my eye was this passage from a lecture handout:
If the brain was organised logically and economically, then the neural systems responsible for the control and initiation of writing should be located close to the primary langauge systems. Therefore hand dominance (left or right handedness) and language laterality (whether your language centres are located in your brain’s right or left hemisphere) should eb tightly correlated, with the dominant hand being contralateral to the language dominant hemisphere.
If you got all of that, good. But I have some real problems with that passage. Firstly, we only started writing a few thousand years ago, and indeed literacy only became widely prevalent in the last couple of millenia, so frankly writing could not have had any realistic impact on human evolution. Note that I’m only talking about writing, I’m not talking about hand dominance (e.g. which hand you throw with, which hand you use for complex tasks) which incidentally would make much more sense.
Secondly, what’s all this talk about the brain being organised logically and economically? Evolution is a powerful thing, to be sure, but it’s not perfect and it’s entirely possible that there are many good reasons why the language systems would not have to be next to the writing (or dominant hand control) centres. In fact, as far as I can tell, there are only two reasons for why people believe this. The first is that there is a significant correlation between language system lateralisation and dominant hand control lateralisation.
The second is that some people thing, ‘Well, language is a complex task and so is hand control. They both need lots of processing power, so obviously they should be put in the same place.’ This argument is so terrible that I need not discuss it further.
Anyway, I suspect that all of this is down to the lecture handout being rushed, but I do wonder if lecturers realise that making even the smallest typo or factual error in their handouts can cause unlimited amounts of grief to all revising students.