Right-Brained or Left-Brained: Which is Which?

Posted on: January 17th, 2011

Who among you, when walking into a theater, classroom or auditorium, and assuming the absence of other influential factors, prefer the left side of the space? In your room home, do you like moving your furniture several times a year, or prefer the same furniture arrangement? Is it easier for you to remember people’s faces than people’s names?

Your preferences are actually dictated by your brain function. Do you know the profound influence of brain dominance on your everyday decision-making?

Knowing which side of the brain works the most will help us learn more about ourselves, gain a wider perspective on our niche in this society, and most importantly, help us know where we are actually good at and excel in. Although it does not fully dictate our preferences, this may provide clues and explanations for our everyday choices.

Right-Brain, Left-Brain: Where It Began

The human brain is one of the most complex organs of our body. It is separated by a longitudinal fissure, which divides the brain into two distinct cerebral hemispheres: the left and the right cerebral hemisphere. One hemisphere mirrors the other in appearance and structure, but both are very much different from one another in terms of function.

The notion that each hemisphere varies in function of lateralized brain function was initially developed from the research of Roger Sperry, an American neuropsychologist who, in 1960, conducted split-brain experiments on split-brain individuals . experiments on patients who had split brains. (The surgical operation to produce this condition is called corpus callosotomy and is usually used as a last resort to treat otherwise intractable epilepsy.)

In order to treat epilepsy, a common ailment of split-brain individuals, the connection between the two hemispheres of the brain called the corpus callosum is severed. This led to reduced capacity for communication between the two hemispheres. It was reported that the act of severing the corpus callosumsplitting the brain led to very interesting behavioral phenomenon that helped Sperry, along with his co-researcher Gazzaniga, to study the contributions of each hemisphere to various cognitive and perceptual processes.

What are the qualities unique to each hemisphere? Sperry pointed out the presence of two well-delineated areas of consciousness compacted together inside one mind: the left-hand side being more intellectual, rational, and verbal, focused on speech and articulation, while the right was the opposite – inarticulate, non-verbal, intuitive, but gifted with visuo-spatial abilities. He also pointed out that the left brain is verbal and processes information in an analytical and sequential way, looking first at the pieces then putting them together to get the whole. The right brain, on the other hand, is visual and processes information in an intuitive and simultaneous way, looking first at the whole picture then the details. Although the two brain hemispheres work simultaneously, there is a tendency of one hemisphere to be more dominant than the other.

Right-Brain, Left-Brain Traits

The research uncovered new trends that still hold true today. It was observed that individuals who have a dominant left-hemisphere do excellently in speech, verbal ability, logic, reasoning skills and number skills. They are rational than intuitive, organized, and solve problems logically and sequentially. They easily respond to verbal instructions, prefer talking and writing, and have greater control over their emotions. They are the people who prefer multiple choice questions on an exam. Furthermore, they see the cause and effect of things, and are called splitters – because they tend to focus more on the distinctions among things and events, rather than on its similarities.

On the other hand, those who have a dominant right-hemisphere are more intuitive than rational, do excellently in spatial imagery and art, and are more creative than those who are left-brained. Aside from that, they are simultaneous, analogic, and solve problems through hunches, looking for specific patterns and configurations. They are able to effectively express their emotions through various ways; they prefer drawing as an art, and they love innovating and manipulating objects. Instead of multiple choice and objective questions, they prefer open-ended questions. Furthermore, they see correspondences and resemblances of things and may also be collectively called “lumpers” – because for them connections between things are very important rather than their differences.

Right-Brain, Left-Brain Dominance

Knowing its effect on preferences, the choice of what occupation to take in the future may also be influenced by brain dominance. For example, left-brained people usually become lab scientists, bankers, judges, lawyers and mathematicians. Right-brained people usually become wildlife managers, politicians, actors and actresses, and artists.

The brain dominance theory has a large effect in the world of neurobiologists and even on people focused on formulating and understanding learning styles. Much is still not known about brain processes, and how these processes control all processes in the human body, including how these control our thinking, emotions, and feelings. Sperry’s concept of the left and right brain thinking, which earned him a Nobel Prize in 1981, opened a lot of doors onto the understanding of human behavior.

Knowing which side of our brain is dominant may help us see more of who we actually are, and it will also help us see the aspects of ourselves that we need to improve further. It will help us identify our weak points, enabling us to have direction for self-improvement. It will also help us identify our strengths so that we will be able to keep a healthy sense of confidence in ourselves.

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