The Bipolar Brain: The Fight For Domination…when the left cerebral hemisphere is winning

One question I often get is, “What’s happening in the brain during a manic and depressive episode?”

The truth is that scientists don’t fully know. Scientists are finding common evidence, but the brain is so complex that nothing we know about it can not be considered fact that will apply to everyone.

Therefore, I am going to share with you my ideas that are based on both my current research and my own experience of my brain in action.

A Balanced Brain – (No brain is truly balance, but let’s pretend)

A balanced brain does its best to equally disperse resources. Therefore there is no competition for resources. Both hemispheres have what they need, the layers of cortex (where our higher functioning takes place) have what they need. The limbic system (the seat of our emotions) has what its needs. Everything is basically working together and there’s harmony.

Yeah right! No brain works like this most of the time.

Bipolar brains just happen to be extreme.

A bipolar brain is a highly competitive brain, which is why many of us are so intelligent, inventive and creative. Different structures and hemispheres of our brain compete for resources to be able to do extreme things that require a lot of energy and brain power.

During Mania – Reminder this is not fact it is my theory

During Mania the left hemisphere of the brain is dominating the right hemisphere. But the right hemisphere isn’t turning it’s cheek, it is fighting back with all it’s got.  This is how the peak of mania and mixed episodes may come to be.

Mood – Mood Swings

This may be do to a structure in our brain called the Orbitofrontal Cortex getting too much energy and not enough energy as it gets pushed and pulled back and forth during the battle between the hemispheres. The Orbitofrontal Cortex is responsible for things like decision making and is sensitive to reward and punishment which may be a large factor in mood.


The structure in the brain called the Hippocampus (that is responsible for forming, sorting and storing memory) appears to be significantly inhibited during mania and/or depression. My experience was that it was incredibly inhibited when the right hemisphere took over and I went into depression, but not inhibited at all during mania.

When we are able to consume analytical information faster and easier than ever before, when our thoughts are racing, when we have multiple thoughts at once and when these thoughts get jumbled up because we cannot keep up with them….

This may be our left hemisphere, particularly in a structure called our Pre-Frontal Cortex, that is consuming so much energy and power that it has taken by dominating the right hemisphere that we cannot keep up with our brain’s ability to function and we cannot express ourselves because we cannot get it out fast enough.

They say that the average human being uses 7-10% of their brain power, well that’s a joke to someone who is manic!

When we are impulsive and take tremendous risks…

This may mean that two specific structures called the Anterior Cingulate (responsible for social inhibition)and Posterior Cingulate (responsible for being sensitive to risk) have been shut down by the lack of resources in the battle between the hemispheres. Research shows that these structures are somewhat depleted in bipolar brains to begin with, so during mania they may not be functioning.

When we feel invincible…

The battle in our brain may be taking a huge toll on our Amygdalas. The amygdalas are both responsible for emotional responses as well as our response to fear.  According to some studies, bipolar brains may have smaller amygdala in the left hemisphere and larger in the right. Therefore, when the left hemisphere is taking over during mania, the little amygdala is overloaded and may be depleted of its resources to appropriately respond to fear.

When we have a heightened sense of spirituality or oneness with all life…basically when we feel we are a god, prophets, higher being, aliens etc…

There is a part of the left hemisphere, whose name I do not know, that has been identified as the seat of spirituality. Some people have it, other people do not. During mania when the left hemisphere is consuming all of the brain’s resources this part of the brain soaks it up and runs with the energy until it is all burned up.

When we experience hallucinations or delusions…

Hallucinations and Delusions may be where the true battle between the left and right brain taking place. This may be where the right brain starts to win at times. This is all my theory from experience.

I believe that as the left and right hemispheres of the brain are battling the messages that get passed from neuron to neuron get disrupted or convoluted causing the message to change so extremely because the message gets changed by each neuron in the neural pathway.

It is basically like playing the telephone game, gone out of control.

When this happens our brain no longer sees what our eyes see and no longer hears what our ears hear. We are no longer able to be in touch with the world outside our our brain. Our brain is battling and doesn’t have the resources that moment to focus on getting accurate messages through.

During the Peak of Mania or a Mixed Episode- when all emotions explode out

This is the last fight. Mania gives the battle everything it’s got by exploding out positive feelings and emotion. But the left hemisphere has been exhausted by the right and doesn’t have many energy left.

The right hemisphere dominates with the power it has and explodes negative, ugly, nasty, horrible feelings and emotions. It does this until it exhausts itself.

During Depression – The Exhaustion

Both left and right hemispheres are depleted. They are done. Finished. And gave up the battle. Neither has any energy left to give.

Hence this is why we feel our brain is dead.

To learn about my theory about how the right brain dominates during depression, I welcome you to come back for more.