Carole Brooks Platt, Ph.D.

Carole regularly attends the Science of Consciousness Conference in Tucson, AZ, except 2020, the year of the coronavirus. She has presented her research there, as well as at poetry events and other academic settings.

Her work was originally informed by Julian Jaynes's theory on the hallucinatory origins of poetry and prophecy in the right hemisphere of the brain.

She was an invited speaker at the Julian Jaynes Conference in Charleston, WV, in 2013, and, more recently, at a symposium on "Further Reaches of the Imagination II" at the Esalen Center for Research and Theory in Big Sur, CA, Nov 1-6, 2015. She was also invited to speak at the Poetry by the Sea global conference in Madison, CT, May 2016, but, unfortunately, was unable to attend.

On February 23, 2017, she presented her research at the Jung Center of Houston.

Her book, In Their Right Minds: The Lives and Shared Practices of Poetic Geniuses, brings together all of her literary and neuroscientific research and was an Amazon Hot New Release in Neuropsychology and Poetry / Literary Criticism.

Carole also provides research on hemispheric differences, atypical lateralization, and handedness at:

Carole is currently working on a book on female mystics and mediums, beginning with Joan of Arc, and female poets who felt aligned with Joan. Carole's popular stand alone article on Joan of Arc is available for purchase from her publisher:

A Day in the Life of a Right-Hemisphere Researcher

Yesterday, I started out composing an email to the PsyArt listserv about the intergenerational transmission of childhood trauma via epigenetic (gene/environment) interactions as well as new linguistic research that upends our notions about language functions contained in the classic areas of the frontal and temporal lobes of the left hemisphere, called Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas respectively. provided fodder with Douglas Eby's posting, "Brain Differences and Creativity." 

From here, I started researching savant syndrome and read a long article about extremely unusual savants with incredible powers of mind, including Kim Peek, the real “Rain Man,” whom Dustin Hoffman brought to life so convincingly in the film.

In Coast-to-Coast's late-night radio interview, philosopher Stephen F. Braude was talking in learned terms about mediumistic contact with the dead: is it just telepathy with the living or do verifiable "drop ins" intrude sometimes, hoping to clear up mysteries about their deaths?

All of the above came together with my ongoing research into the special abilities of the right hemisphere, once erroneously known as "the silent" hemisphere.

Let's summarize these findings:

Childhood trauma, whether in utero, at birth, or in the early years of life, physically changes the brain. We’ve long known that child abuse is intergenerational: a traumatized child can become a traumatizing adult. What I didn’t know is that brain changes can alter genes that can then be transmitted to the next generation. Both nature (genes) and nurture (parental care, especially in the first two years) play important roles. Dr. Allan Schore has been my guiding light on attachment theory. He is a rare neuropsychologist who takes the time to answer emails and sends articles, book chapters, and suggested readings to further my understanding.

Volume changes in the left hemisphere make an abused child’s brain resemble the brain of a schizophrenic. The compromised sense of self on the right will lead to dissociative tendencies when under stress and a predisposition to mental disorders, while the left-hemispheric damage provides enhanced right specialties, including creativity and the arts.

Kim Peek had no corpus callosum. The fibers that usually connect the two hemispheres were missing. This bizarre aberration made him autistic, but with incredible powers of mind. He could read two pages of a book at once, one with the left eye and the other with the right in 8-10 seconds (Hewett, 2010). He could also read a book upside down or sideways. He had the incredible facility with numbers that we saw in Rain Man. Jake Barnett is a more recent autistic math genius:

Christopher Taylor can also read upside down or sideways and is a hyperpolyglot. Although he lives in an institution for the mentally challenged, he has learned 20 languages from reading books and newspapers, as well as from real life experiences.

Daniel Tammet, a British high-functioning autistic savant, also suffered epilepsy as a child. In the aftermath of his seizures, he developed an incredible talent for calculating math and learning foreign languages. He uses his synesthetic ability to visualize individual numbers, say, 52 or 108, with a distinct form and color arising spontaneously in his brain and is emotionally connected to them. He can calculate π in his head past the range of a calculator. while visualizing his beautiful numbers.  He speaks 11 languages and has invented a language based on Finnish and Estonian. But his most incredible linguistic feat was learning Icelandic in one week, then having a conversation on a national TV station using the language. 

Language savants are rare, according to author Elham H. Ammari (2011), since the syndrome is usually caused by damage to the left hemisphere producing enhanced compensatory right-hemispheric functioning. Since language is considered primarily a left-hemispheric function, Ammari wonders what is actually going on here. I would say that damage to the left hemisphere caused a shift of both math and language to the right hemisphere, which, in combination with the right's natural imagistic ability, gave Tammet a new intuitive and visual way of calculating math and learning foreign languages. Tammet has now written a memoir: Born On A Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant.

As a language specialist myself, I know that early language learning starts in the right hemisphere in the normal population and then shifts to the left after the rules of grammar start to play a role. The special instances of learning difficult foreign languages in short order that I've mentioned above would rely on atypical right-hemispheric language skills, attained through brain damage or a genetic shift to right dominance. In Peek’s truly rare case, his hemispheres operated separately and simultaneously.

As I watched both Tammet and Peek in a video that has now been removed from online, I saw that both wrote with their right hand. However, both wore their watch on their right arm like a left-hander. Further, Tammet  gesticulated with the left, placed his poker chips with the left, and walked left foot first. Both showed very mixed dominance that can be seen as well in a characteristically strong central line between their brows. Synesthesia, which creates unusual cross-talk between  the senses, has been found to be three times higher in autistic subjects than in neurotypicals in a sample of around 300 people,  according to new research.

The Incredible Lightness of Being and Its Dark Antecedents

I've been studying the neurobiology of mystical states for about 15 years, since a dear friend of mine believed she was channeling angels after her mother died. To get the background of all this, see my Web site It's been a very long and complicated quest since I had no background in science. I have studied language and literature all my life and have a Ph.D. in French.

Oddly, what seemed to pull it all together for me was the movie, "Amélie," that I saw for about the tenth time last night. The beginning of the movie is a long narration with clever, off-beat imagery about a strange little girl who will grow up to be the equally strange young woman in the movie.

The beginning of the movie shows her troubled childhood, a distant father (a doctor) who only touches her once a month to give her a physical examination. She's so excited by this rare contact that her heart beats furiously and he diagnoses a heart condition. Her mother, an obsessive compulsive, is struck down one day in front of a church by the falling body of a Canadian tourist who decides to end it all in her great leap.

Now we have a sad, angry, motherless child, with a distant father, who is friendless at school. Amélie lives under a dark cloud with sprinkles of fantasy that keep her alive and the most amazing visual imagination that carries through to adulthood.

One day, she takes a blind man by the arm and describes the everyday wonders of the Paris street where they walk and she leaves him off at the métro. As she walks away, she has an incredible sense of lightness, the air she breathes is freer, clearer, the flowers smell much sweeter and everything has a sense of wonder about it. After long suffering, she tips into the nirvana zone with open-hearted compassion and a mission to help others.

This awakening, this incredible lightness of being, this compensation for the trauma of her life up to that point made total sense to me after my years of research into mystical states of consciousness. But it was after sleeping on it and awakening that fresh ideas came to me this morning.

Andrew Newberg has used neuroimaging to see into the brains of Buddhist monks and praying nuns before and during their religious practices. Michael Persinger has used electromagnetic stimulation to the temporal lobes to produce a "God" experience and gave questionnaires to college students to find out what kinds of people are more likely to sense an invisible presence near them. Newberg ends up wondering if certain people are predisposed to have mystical experiences because of their brain circuitry or if their long practice makes it happen. Persinger believes it's an overaroused right hemisphere that does it, especially in people who are interested in creative writing or do it themselves.

I have come to believe that childhood trauma, like Amélie suffered, physically changes the brain, in line with the research of Allan Schore and others. Newberg doesn't take into account the deprivations that monks and nuns suffer as part of their vocation and Persinger doesn't take into account why certain people are more drawn in the first place to poetry and prose. His "God" helmet works best on people with either the circuitry or previously held beliefs that can allow it to happen. I suggest that a genetic predisposition to more right hemispheric dominance along with childhood trauma can lead to brain processing that favors both mysticism and the paranormal, along with novel, creative ideas, more visual imagery and poetic language.

The brain's complex, interconnecting networks, when synchronized, can confer great talents and insights, often feeling or sounding as though they come from someone or somewhere else. We are the authors of our ideas, our feelings, our creativity, but as a consequence of what precedes them, the combined resonances in the books we have read, the movies we've seen, the people we have talked to, all of which can recombine during the dark night, when our senses have shut down, then bursting into consciousness in the morning. The new thread of ideas is tenuous, though, likely to evaporate in the dream mist unless we write it down as quickly as possible.