The theory is that people are either left-brained or right-brained, meaning that one side of their brain is dominant. If you’re mostly analytical and methodical in your thinking, you’re said to be left-brained. If you tend to be more creative or artistic, you’re thought to be right-brained.
This theory is based on the fact that the brain’s two hemispheres function differently. This first came to light in the 1960s, thanks to the research of psychobiologist and Nobel Prize winner Roger W. Sperry.
The left brain is more verbal, analytical, and orderly than the right brain. It’s sometimes called the digital brain. It’s better at things like reading, writing, and computations.
According to Sperry’s dated research, the left brain is also connected to:
- Linear Thinking
- Thinking In Words
The right brain is more visual and intuitive. It’s sometimes referred to as the analog brain. It has a more creative and less organized way of thinking.
Research suggests the right brain is also connected to:
- Holistic Thinking
- Nonverbal Cues
- Feelings Visualization
We know the two sides of our brain are different, but does it necessarily follow that we have a dominant brain just as we have a dominant hand?
According to recent research, the idea of people being “left-brained” or “right-brained” may also be less fixed than we’d thought.
According to conventional wisdom, people tend to have a personality, thinking style, or way of doing things that is either right-brained or left-brained.
Those who are right-brained are supposed to be intuitive and creative free thinkers. They are “qualitative,” big-picture thinkers who experience the world in terms that are descriptive or subjective. For example, “The skies are gray and menacing; I wonder if it’s going to rain?”
Meanwhile, left-brained people tend to be more quantitative and analytical. They pay attention to details and are ruled by logic. Their view of the weather is more likely, “The forecast said there was only a 30% chance of rain, but those cumulonimbus clouds will probably bring thunder as well as rain.”
A popular book first published in 1979, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, extends this concept. It suggests that regardless of how your brain is wired, getting in touch with your “right brain” will help you see — and draw — things differently.
These notions of “left and right brain-ness” are widespread and widely accepted. But they may also be wrong.
Location of the Brain matters
There is truth to the idea that some brain functions reside more on one side of the brain than the other. We know this in part from what is lost when a stroke affects a particular part of the brain. For example, it has long been thought that, in most people, control of language resides in the left side of the brain. And there are areas of the right half the brain that control movement of the left arm and leg (and vice versa). Damage to the front part of the brain is linked with reduced motivation, difficulty planning, and impaired creativity. Meanwhile, the back of the brain (the occipital cortex) integrates visual information from the eye. Damage to this area can cause partial or complete blindness. These are just a few examples of how certain parts of the brain appear responsible for specific functions. So, location does matter.
But for more individual personality traits, such as creativity or a tendency toward the rational rather than the intuitive, there has been little or no evidence supporting a residence in one area of the brain. In fact, if you performed a CT scan, MRI scan, or even an autopsy on the brain of a mathematician and compared it to the brain of an artist, it’s unlikely you’d find much difference. And if you did the same for 1,000 mathematicians and artists, it’s unlikely that any clear pattern of difference in brain structure would emerge.
The right-brain/left brain myth?
So, is the idea of “thinking with the left side of your brain” a myth? Maybe. But, the lack of proof does not prove the opposite. For people living thousands of years ago, an inability to prove the earth was round did not prove the earth was flat!
But, the evidence discounting the left/right brain concept is accumulating. According to a 2013 study from the University of Utah, brain scans demonstrate that activity is similar on both sides of the brain regardless of one’s personality.
The bottom line
If you’ve always thought of yourself as a “numbers person” or a creative sort, this research doesn’t change anything, whether you’re working out a complicated algebraic equation or painting an abstract work of art, both sides of your brain are actively participating and providing input.
You’re not truly left-brained or right-brained, but you can play to your strengths and continue broadening your mental horizons. A normal, healthy brain is capable of lifelong learning and boundless creativity.
Source: HBR l Robert H. Shmerling /Healthline/Psychology
Izhar Khan – Author is the FCA- CA ANZ, Business Consultant& Certified Marshall Goldsmith Executive Coach based in Melbourne Australia associated with ABN Finsights Academy &Business Consultancy Firm as a CEO &Founder having more than 25 years’ corporate experience including Blue Chip MNCs like 3M and Stanley Black & Decker& Ernst &Youngglobally.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article is for information only and is not offered as advice. Readers are encouraged to consult a suitably qualified professional adviser to obtain advice tailored to their specific requirements.