Left vs. Right Brain Dominance: Dissecting the Fascinating Debate
The human brain — isn’t it a marvel of nature? Nestled within the skull, this wonderfully complex organ allows us to experience life in all its splendor, from the logical reasoning behind a mathematical problem to the emotional resonance of a beautiful piece of music.
The brain operates the vehicle that is the body and enables us to regulate our feelings, be it expressing joy, managing anger or responding to danger. Truly, the brain is an incredible creation.
One theory that’s been the talk of the town for years is the idea of right-brain vs. left-brain dominance: the belief that some people have certain personality traits or abilities because one side of the brain is more dominant. But how much weight does this theory hold?
Although the notion of being a “right-brained” vs. “left-brained” thinker is prevalent, you might be taken aback to discover that it’s merely one of the many myths surrounding the brain.
The Mechanics of the Human Brain
The brain’s primary role is to interpret information and manage bodily functions. Despite its slight mass of about 1.36 kilograms, the brain is a complex hub hosting up to 100 billion neurons with countless connections.
The Birth of the Right Brain vs. Left Brain Theory
Our historical journey begins with Roger W. Sperry, a renowned researcher whose work on “split-brain” patients, individuals whose left and right hemispheres of the brain were disconnected, earned him a Nobel Prize in 1981. His research was based on the premise that each side of the brain functions differently.
According to Sperry, our right brain focuses on creativity and intuition. It is the side capable of holistic thinking and imagination. It also enables us to process nonverbal cues and interpret feelings and visualizations.
The narrative suggests that if you’re right-brained, you might be drawn to artistic pursuits, have a keen spatial sense, or are especially attuned to other people’s emotions. Perhaps you excel in fields like psychology or teaching, where empathy and interpersonal skills are paramount.
In contrast, Sperry concluded that the left brain focuses on logic and sequential processing. It’s responsible for language skills, analytical thinking, and critical problem-solving.
So, if you’re categorized as a left-brained person, you’re likely to be detail-oriented, prefer facts and rules, and have a talent for verbal communication. You might find joy in solving logical puzzles, diving into technical textbooks, or crunching numbers.
Translating this into real-world skills — perhaps you’re drawn to science, mathematics, or law, areas that require a structured and analytical mind.
However, if specific parts of the brain do take the lead in processing certain mental tasks, does this mean there is an overall dominant side?
Debunking the Left Brain vs. Right Brain Dominance Myth
A team of neuroscientists tested the left-brain vs. right-brain dominance notion in 2013. Their extensive review found no evidence to corroborate this theory. Neuroimaging scans of over 1,000 participants showed no preference for one hemisphere over the other.
Although certain areas are more active during specific tasks, the brain is so interconnected and integrated that it’s impossible to attribute certain behaviors or abilities to one hemisphere alone.
The two sides communicate through the corpus callosum, a bundle of nerve fibers that enables them to share information and coordinate activities.
For instance, an artist attempting to paint a person’s portrait has both sides of their brain working in tandem. The left hemisphere identifies and analyzes facial features. At the same time, the right interprets emotions from subtle changes in color, texture, and composition.
Brain Health Tips for Everyone
Whether you feel like a right-brained creative or a left-brained analyst, remember that both sides form the unique individual that is you. Here are some ways you can nurture brain health and elevate your cognitive abilities:
● Exercise regularly
Regular physical activity contributes to memory and cognitive functions in several direct and indirect means. It boosts the production of growth factors in the brain that influence the health of cells and prompt the formation of new blood vessels. Exercise can also step in as a form of anxiety treatment, alleviating stress and uplifting your mood.
● Try new things
Cultivate new hobbies to stimulate your mind, like reading, playing chess or learning a new language. These mental workouts increase brain acuity, improve memory, enhance concentration, and delay aging.
● Eat healthy
The foods you eat can greatly impact brain health and functioning. Work toward maintaining a diet that includes fruits, leafy, green vegetables, lean proteins, walnuts and berries.
● Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is the brain’s time to “clean house” and repair itself. During deep sleep, the brain works on tasks it can’t manage during active or waking hours. These include clearing harmful toxins, consolidating memories, and repairing cell damage. So, a solid night of sleep (7-8 hours) is essential for our brains to rest.
The human brain is a remarkable organ with many strengths and capabilities. And while the debate will no doubt continue on about the intricacies of its functioning, we can be sure of one thing — with a bit of care and nurturing, our brains can perform outstanding feats.
At Evolve Brain Training, we believe the human brain can continually expand to reach peak performance.
Contact our team today and learn how we can help you achieve optimum brain health and develop greater mental acuity.
Dr. Upasana Gala is the founder and CEO of Evolve Brain Training, a Neurofeedback-centered institute that focuses on using non-invasive brain training techniques to maximize the brain's true potential.