For many years, there has been a general acceptance that there is a right side of the brain and a left side of the brain. Have you heard that either side of the brain is responsible for controlling different parts of our thinking processes? You may have heard people refer to someone as right brained or left brained. This is to mean that one side of their brain is more dominant than another. Generally speaking, if following this concept, this means that someone who is ruled by their left brain is more analytical and logical. Someone who is ruled by their right brain is more creative. But what most don’t know is that there is a lot more to the science of the brain. Let’s take a look at why the basic concept of left vs. right brain is actually a myth.
When scientists were studying the brain in the 1800’s, they discovered that certain motor skills were lost based on which side of the brain the injury took place. This is where the idea of left vs. right brained began. Fast forward to 2013, and scientists scan the brains of over 1000 people to truly test the theory of left brained and right brained. This study confirmed that particular brain functions do reside on one hemisphere or the other. But what it also revealed is that the different areas of the brains are very interconnected and work together to achieve different tasks as well.
The concept of the right brain vs left brain, which is actually called the lateralization theory, has been around for decades. But it became even more popular in the 1970’s with the work of Roger W. Sperry. His work differentiated between the two hemispheres of the brain and claimed that each person was either right brained or left brained. But what is closer to the truth is that this is really a generalization.
The truth is that the creativity that is supposedly only reserved for right brainers is actually available for anyone. Creativity involves a mash up of different characteristics like motivation, moral compass, emotional disposition and intellect. Also IQ isn’t a predetermining factor for logic or a more reasonable mind. This more so involves how open minded a person is to situational variations that are different from their specific comfort zone. How much a person can tolerate a certain level of dissonance and chaos will determine how readily agreeable they are to looseness — and alternatively, their need for structure and organization. More creative individuals are risk takers and can lean more on their own independence in thinking and individuality. Those who are more structured need a certain level of predictability, and thrive in scenarios where they can create and maintain that consistency.
There are certain aspects that are more geared towards the left or right brain, experts have found. “Language tends to be on the left, attention more on the right. But people don’t tend to have a stronger left- or right-sided brain network. It seems to be determined more connection by connection, says Dr. Jeff Anderson. So this means when you are browsing the web and see claims that you can take a test or quiz to determine which side of the brain you are dominant in, take pause to this. These kinds of quizzes may give you some insight, but they are really putting you in a box that can be limiting and misleading. By thinking that you are closed off to one side of your brain and the wonderful traits that this lateralization theory has confined it to, you are limiting your ability to tap into the fullness and beauty of your whole personality.