strategies to avoid getting confused – WWN

strategies to avoid getting confused – WWN

Of Elena Meli

The most frequent problem in women and affects 15% of the general population. also at the origin of many errors by surgeons who get confused and operate on the wrong side

What do they have in common the sinking of the Titanic and the news stories in which operations carried out on the ship are reported knee healthy instead of the sick one? It is possible that the helmsman of the liner and the surgeon of the wrong operation have a problem in the recognize left and rightan event that is anything but unusual and certainly not limited to school-age children: as explained Gerald Gormleyan internist at Queen’s University of Belfast in Northern Ireland who has been studying the phenomenon for some time, of all orientations in space, high or low, near or far and so on, discerning right from left is the most complicated and not surprisingly the source of many medical errors.

Biopsies on the wrong breast, injections in the good eye, even amputations of limbs without any pathology: avoidable clinical errors often involve thehaving confused the side on which to intervene.

Find solutions

Gormley also analyzed the issue to find solutions and teach doctors how not to fall into a trap: Distinguishing left and right in another person is complicated because it requires complex processesfrom spatial and visual processing to memorysays the expert.

First of all, you need to orient left and right on yourself and for some not immediate or easy: those who don’t respond immediately admit to using tricks such as thinking about the hand they write with, a tattoo they have on one side of their body and similar clues. The next step to understand which is the right and left of another rotate yourself to look where he or she is looking, because when we are facing someone our left is facing their right and vice versa and it confuses us. There mental rotation adds a degree of difficulty to the process.

The rotation strategy

How decisive but complex the rotation strategy is is demonstrated by a recent experiment conducted by Ineke van der Ham, a neuropsychologist at the Dutch University of Leiden, in which volunteers were asked to indicate which hand was highlighted in some photographsas quickly as possible: when the character in the photos was from behind, with left and right matching those of the volunteer, the speed and accuracy of the responses increased.

In short, we use our body to recognize left and right in others, taking advantage of the representation we have of it head: the Dutch expert’s experiments have shown that even if one’s hands are covered or crossed during the recognition test of the left and right of others, the results do not change. Precisely because our body acts as a guide, the more asymmetric it is, for example in the way it is used, the easier it is to find our way around: who is ambidextrousfor exampleit’s much more difficult.


If a part of the brain slightly larger than the other one tends to have better discrimination between right and left, observes Gormley. For many all this happens in an instant and without thinking about it, but as van der Ham recently demonstrated 15 percent of the general population admits that they do not discriminate between left and right well43 percent use the trick of the hand they write with to recognize them in themselves and help themselves do so in others.

I am especially women who need to resort to helpFurthermore, men tend to be quicker in their responses; research from some time ago suggested that they are also better at recognizing left and right, especially if they are left-handed, perhaps due to a better, innate ability to orientate in space.

November 5, 2023 (modified November 5, 2023 | 08:39)

Source link