The Left Brain Versus the Right Brain
Are you a leftie or a rightie? Research has shown that generally, the left and right hemispheres of our brain process information differently. Individuals usually show a tendency toward one mode of thinking, referred to as being left-brained or right-brained.
The human brain is composed of two halves, usually termed the right brain and the left brain, or more correctly, the right and left hemispheres. Each hemisphere matches up with the opposite side of the body: The right hemisphere controls the left half of the body, and vice versa. The concept of these two different modes of thinking arose in the late 1960s, when American psychobiologist Roger Sperry’s research revealed that the brain possesses two different ways of reasoning.
These two different ways of thinking come with a host of differential characteristics. Left-brained thinkers are verbal and analytical; right-brained thinkers are nonverbal and intuitive. The right side of the brain concentrates on the visual, processing information by first examining the whole picture and then the corresponding details. The left side, in contrast, processes information in an analytical fashion, moving from the pieces first to the whole picture.
From the embryonic state, our bodies build a left-right symmetry of matched parts, from our eyes to our toes. This left-right symmetry came with evolutional advantages. Possessing muscles and limbs on both sides of the body, species could more forward easily and efficiently. As early fish began to develop complex brains, these organs were also created relying on left-right rules. The neocortex (the outer layers of the brain) is split into two symmetrical hemispheres, although our brains are not mirror images of one another any more than our bodies are.
One psychologist claimed that the differences between the brain’s two hemispheres, referred to as the lateralization of the brain, was a critical part of the evolution of humankind, endowing us with language and other mental abilities not seen in animals.
Certain regions of the brain are more attuned to certain functions. For example, French doctor Paul Broca found in the mid-1800s an area of the left side of the brain that is crucial for language, now nicknamed Broca’s area. When damaged, the affected person can no longer talk, yet the same region on the right side is far less essential. The same goes for another area that is critical for recognizing faces: The right side is responsible for most of the process of recognition. These discoveries, together with others, gave rise to the phenomena of calling individuals either “right-brained” or left-brained.” Some people, called whole-brained, are considered equally proficient in both ways of thinking.
People who are left-brain dominant use their logic and analysis to make sense of the world, living in the realm of science and math. They reject emotion in favor of calculation and careful, decisive action. Those who are left-brained view the world in black and white as full of cold, hard reality, based on observation and analysis. Language recognition is a function of the left side of the brain; therefore, language is easier for the left-brained dominant.
Those who are right-brained root their thoughts and beliefs on feelings over facts. Empathetic and dreamy, righties find detail-oriented jobs a bore, preferring work that requires use of their imagination. Right-brainers are known for their innovation and originality. Politics and acting are natural choices, as is any occupation that demands creative thinking and spontaneity. They gravitate toward work in the arts.
The right side responds to the artistic: painting, music, theatre, dance, writing and other artistic endeavors. Right-brain dominants use their imagination to discover creative solutions to problems and are famous for their emotional responses to life.
The left brain controls reading, writing, calculation and logical thinking. It is detail-oriented, concerned with facts, practicalities and knowing. The right brain controls three-dimensional sense, creativity and artistic senses. It is concerned with feeling, symbols and images, and possibilities.
Righties are often identified as more creative. As such, our educational system typically favors the left-brained thinkers, with school subjects that require logical thinking, analysis and accuracy instead of the right brain’s feeling and creativity. The differences in processing information means that right-brainers and left-brainers learn differently, affecting their behavior and personality.
There is a great deal of folk rumors about the two sides. Some believe that left-brained individuals tend to adore dogs and enjoy classical music. Right-brained people are capable of being hypnotized and are able to memorize words and lyrics easier.
No one is a perfect fit for either personality; however, it is likely one side is dominant.
There are many quizzes available online to determine which side is your dominant side. Through being aware of your innate brain preference, you can not only understand yourself and your mode of thinking, you can improve your less dominant side.