Quite often you have heard people say that they are either left-brained or right-brained. People have claimed time and again that they have a predominating side of the brain. You must have spent time looking at numerous infographics, television programs and taking various tests online which supposedly determine the category to which you belong.
The left brain is often associated with math and logic whereas the right brain is said to be associated with creativity and therefore a person’s inclination towards either of the two determines whether they are left brain thinkers or right brain thinkers. Numerous books and articles state that by following certain steps to develop one side of the brain, you can acquire the skills you lack. So let us understand this concept in detail.
The theory of the left-brain and right-brain
The brain is the primary organ of our entire nervous system. It is divided into two hemispheres, the left and the right, each carry out a number of roles. These two sides communicate with each other via the corpus callosum. The theory of the left brain/right brain dominance first came to light in the 1960s due to the work of nobel prize winner Roger W. Sperry. It suggests that each half of the brain performs a fairly distinct set of functions and in most people, the operations of one side dominates over the other. For example, a left-brained person is considered to be more analytical, methodical, logical and objective whereas a right-brained person is often said to be more disorganized, thoughtful, creative, artistic, intuitive and subjective. According to this theory, humans tend to use a side of the brain more than the other which eventually determines their talents and personality traits.
The left side of the brain
According to the Sperry theory, the left brain is more analytical, orderly and verbal than the right brain. It’s better at performing functions like reading, writing, sequencing and computations. The left side is also considered to be dominant in language. It processes the words you hear and handles how you speak. It also carries out logical and exact mathematical computations. It helps you in critical thinking and reasoning. It retrieves facts by pulling it out of your memory. Therefore, if you are someone who is more logical and practical then you fall into the ‘left-brain’ category of people.
The right side of the brain
According to this theory, the right side of the brain is best at creative and expressive tasks. It is primarily in charge of face recognition, spatial abilities and processing music. The brain’s right side is better at helping us to comprehend visual imagery. It is connected to imagination, holistic thinking, arts, rhythm, intuition, daydreaming and nonverbal cues. It performs math, but only on comparisons and rough estimations. It plays a role in language too, particularly in interpreting a person’s tone and context. If you are more of an expressive, emotional and creative person then you can call yourself a ‘right-brained’ person according to this theory.
So are people really left-brained or right brained?
We know the left side and the right side of our brain carry out different functions, but does it necessarily imply that we have a dominant side of the brain? Is it similar to us having a dominant hand?
A group of neuroscientists aimed to do some research and test this hypothesis. After two-years of analysis, no proof to this theory was found. Magnetic resonance imaging scans of over a thousand people revealed that the brain does not particularly prefer one side over the other. Neither are the networks of one side stronger than the other side. The two sides have different functions, but they operate together to complement one another.
The theory that you use only one side of the brain at a time is very untrue. When you’re performing a creative or a logical task, you’re receiving information from both hemispheres of your brain. For instance, the left side helps you in comprehending the language, but the right side comprehends the tone and context. When left side solves mathematical problems and equations, the right side helps out with rough estimates and comparisons. General personality traits, learning style or individual preferences do not support the idea that you’re right-brained or left-brained. The brain assigns control of different functions to each side to maximize efficiency.
Scientists have known for years that the theory of the right-brain/left-brain is a misconception, yet its popularity widely persists. Unfortunately, most people are not well informed about the idea being outdated. Magazine articles, online quizzes, and books are full of information that help you identify the dominant side of your brain. The main thing to remember here is that you can take as many of these left brain/right brain online quizzes as you want for fun but there is no point placing much stock in the results.