My parents had 2 boys. My brother Paul was nearly four years older than I. When we were very small, aunts and uncles and everyone would say that Jack was artistic so he was a right-sided brain child. Then about Paul they would say that he was a left-sided brain child because he was so analytical.
I presume that we overheard this and thus adapted them to our chosen paths in life. Was that true? How did it turn out? Well—yes, Paul turned out to be a geologist and taught math on the college level; but he also was quite a gifted water-color painter. I wrote plays, studied languages and liked to act on stage. Yet I too had a few moments when I was very technical and analytical.
Have you ever heard people say that they tend to be more of a right-brain or left-brain person? From books to television programs, you’ve surely heard it mentioned numerous times. Given the popularity of the idea of “right brained” and “left brained” thinkers, it might surprise you to learn that this idea is little more than a myth in all actuality.
Years back people casually dumped people into one of these two categories as though it were simply a case of black and white pop psychology. Along your way in life, I’m sure you’ve heard people describe themselves as strictly “right-brained” or “left-brained, with the left-brainers bragging about their math skills and the right-brainers touting their creativity.
In a way the whole right-brain / left-brain idea is a little bit correct because the brain is, after all, divided smack down the middle into two parts. Each half performs a fairly distinct set of operations—yet both factions operate independently and in concert with each other.
The brain’s right branch controls the muscles on the left side of the body. The left branch controls the muscles on the right side of the human body. When you wink your right eye, that’s the left side of your brain at work. Due to this crisscross wiring, damage to one side of the brain affects the opposite side of the body.
In general, the left part is dominant in language: processing what you hear and handling most of the duties of speech. It’s also in charge of carrying out logic and exact mathematical computations. When you need to retrieve a fact, your left brain pulls it from your memory.
The right part is mainly in charge of spatial abilities, such as recognizing people’s faces and processing music. It performs some math but only rough estimations and comparisons. The brain’s right side also helps us to comprehend visual imagery and make sense of what we see. It plays a role in language, particularly in interpreting context and a person’s tone.
As for whether a person is right-brained or left-brained or even right-handed or left-handed, the uses and preferences of the brain’s two sections are far more complex than just a simple left vs. right situation. For example, some people throw a ball with their right hand but write with their left. Most people are right-handed but the left side of the brain controls that.
The brain carefully balances and assigns control of certain functions to each side. It’s nature’s way of ensuring that the brain ultimately splits up tasks to maximize efficiency.
Broad generalizations are often made in popular psychology about one side or the other having characteristic labels, such as “logical” for the left side or “creative” for the right. Both halves of the brain contribute to both of these processes. Present day science provides little support for pigeon holing either side of the brain. Both cooperate more than we realize. Even so, each side predominates in certain areas. It’s just that one side isn’t completely in charge of a certain function as we used to believe.
While the idea of right brain / left brain thinkers has been debunked, its popularity persists because certain areas are more closely associated with one side of the brain than the other. Here then is a list of right wing / left wing abilities:
Right Brain Dominant Abilities
- Recognizing faces
- Expressing emotions
- Reading emotions
The Left Brain Dominant Abilities
- Critical thinking
Here is a test you might like to take which will tell you some things about your Right brain / Left brain abilities.