Is your right hemisphere or left hemisphere most dominant? More to the point, what does it mean exactly?

The right hemisphere of the brain is associated with creativity and imagination, whereas the left is associated with logic and reasoning. So, are you interested in science and maths or do you prefer art and music? Does the phrase “creative brain” describe you? If so, then you are most likely to have a dominant right hemisphere – or what is known as a “right-brain“. But how do we know all this?

The Origins of Right Hemisphere and Left Hemisphere

Before the 1980s, there were few studies on the different hemispheres of the brain. The classic thinking at the time was that the left side was responsible for most of the brain’s processing. Indeed, the right hemisphere was considered to be a minor structure, with some going as far to regard it as so mentally retarded it was not even conscious.

All that changed in 1981. Nobel-Prize winner, Roger Sperry had the opportunity to conduct live studies on the brains of epilepsy sufferers. He wanted to reduce or even eliminate their seizures.

Previous studies had shown that grand mal seizures involve both hemispheres of the brain. However, if they were contained in one hemisphere, the effects would be drastically lessened. In his now famous ‘Split Brain’ experiments, Sperry cut the corpus callosum, the structure that binds the two brain hemispheres and found that seizures were reduced.

But it was the after-affects that caused such excitement. Sperry quickly realised that the right hemisphere was capable of much more than originally anticipated. Furthermore, each hemisphere displayed definite characteristics.

For example, Sperry discovered that the left hemisphere specialised in language and analytical tasks. The right hemisphere focused on space perception and emotion.

In simple terms, imagine that the left has an enormous vocabulary but the right provides the emotional context for the words. So your left hemisphere might come up with the word ‘partner’ to describe a loved one, but your right hemisphere would give all the nuance that comes with the word.

“The great pleasure and feeling in my right brain is more than my left brain can find the words to tell you.” Roger Sperry

Characteristics of Left and Right Hemisphere

  • Left Hemisphere – analytical, logical, reasoning, orderly, quantitative, structured, rational, verbal.
  • Right Hemisphere – creative, imaginative, holistic, intuitive, conceptual, flexible, non-verbal.

It is commonly known that left-brain dominant people are more likely to be clinical and cold in their judgments and problem-solving. The right hemisphere associates itself with cognitive skills, such as creativity, emotion and intuitiveness.

Here are 3 signs that your right hemisphere is more dominant and what it means

1. You prefer being creative rather than logical

I don’t just mean creative in an arty sort of way. I mean creative in all aspects of your life. For example, if you are faced with a problem you might daydream or fantasise about possible solutions.

You may experiment with different ideas, you may visualise them working with varying techniques. These are all characteristics of a dominant right hemisphere. By contrast, if you went about solving your problem in a methodical and rational way, using statistics and numbers, that is characteristic of a left brain dominance.

An added characteristic of a person with a dominant right hemisphere is that creativity leads to a need for constant stimulation. Remember, they are visual beings.

2. You are not a fan of ‘black and white’ thinking

Because right-brain dominant people are creative in their thinking they are able to see multiple choices and all the grey areas in life. Those with left-brain dominance tend to use black and white thinking because it suits their structured and orderly way of reasoning.

Right brains like lots of options. They want the freedom to explore possibilities. Left brains find this difficult. It is too wishy-washy for them.

3. You see the bigger picture

Because right brain thinkers look at as many options as possible, as such, they are much more likely to see the wider view. This means they are less likely to get stuck on the smaller details. They are naturally holistic and can make connections between seemingly random clues to build a bigger picture.

One reason why this is the case is that people who are more dominant in their right hemispheres are also more emotionally intuitive and value opinions and feelings of others. As a result of this, they are more likely to have a wider circle of friends.

Do we really have a dominant left or right hemisphere?

Contrary to popular belief, our brains are not actually two distinctive spheres. Rather, something called the Neocortex is – and it makes up two-thirds of the brain. Therefore,  it makes more sense to examine what goes on in the Neocortex – the most advanced part of the brain, than concentrate on the hemispheres.

“No matter how lateralized the brain can get, though, the two sides still work together,” science writer Carl Zimmer

So, does one side of the brain really control specific functions? Is it possible for people to be either left-brain or right-brain? Despite the ground-breaking work by Sperry, more recent studies have cast doubt on the idea of dominance in either side of the brain.

Although it is still widely accepted that creativity resides in the right hemisphere, further research shows that language is, indeed, processed across both. In fact, the largest study on brain dominance showed ‘no evidence to support the notion that people are intrinsically left or right sided in how their brains are wired’.

What is true is that some people do prefer a creative and imaginative approach to life and learning, and others opt for a more methodical and logical way. Whichever one you prefer, right or left, it is worth trying to balance your strengths and recognise any weaknesses. Or if you can’t, then at least utilise your preference and make the most out of your dominant style.

References:

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com
  2. https://www.independent.co.uk
  3. https://embryo.asu.edu
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