Left-Brained Or Right- Brained?

You do not have a dominant brain hemisphere.

Are you creative, prone to sudden bursts of insight? Or perhaps your thinking is more deliberate and logical? A popular idea suggests that the right hemisphere dominates in the brains of intuitive thinkers, whereas analytical thinkers are “left-brained.”

The right and left hemispheres do specialize in different mental functions. But the notion that individuals rely more heavily on one or the other glosses over the complexity of the left-right relationship.

 

The best-documented differences tend to be subtle,” notes neuroscientist Stephen Kosslyn, a professor emeritus at Harvard University. In the mythical left-brained/right-brained scheme, the left hemisphere facilitates language, while the right handles perception. “But in fact,” he explains, “language is distributed across the hemispheres.

At least in right-handed people, the left hemisphere is typically better at using grammar when producing and understanding language, whereas the right hemisphere is better at parsing tone of voice to understand intent,” such as whether a speaker is joking. Likewise, perception involves both sides of the brain.

Neuroimaging research, according to Kosslyn, shows that these processes recruit both hemispheres. Brain structure and function vary between individuals, and a left-right division is too blunt to capture that variation.

The myth, which has its roots in experiments with split-brain patients, persists in part because dichotomies are easy to grasp. “It makes sense that we have left and right parts of our brains and, analogous to our hands, that they have different capabilities,” states Kosslyn. However, while left-handed you may be, left-brained you are not.

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