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Debunking the Left vs. Right Brain Myth

Olivia Allbrittion, CASA

For those of you in the art’s or other creative fields, you probably have had someone refer to as being “right-brained.” Let me assure you that you do not just use your right hemisphere while neglecting your left. To function and perform daily tasks you must use the entirety of your brain. Being “right-brained” has become a type of colloquial terminology for a creative mind, and as a result, a misrepresentation of how humans function. Because this terminology has seemingly scientific appeal as an explanation for natural creativity, it has become incredibly popular in the world of arts. At the same time it gives those who do not have creative tendencies an excuse because well, “I’m just left brained.”

Due to this phenomenon, I wish to encourage those left brainers to understand that they too have a fully operable right hemisphere. Creativity is not some allusive state for you. For the right-brainers out there, your creativity does not stem from your right hemisphere but rather it is simply a reflection of your personal expression and interests. However, it has been shown through split brain patient studies that each hemisphere performs different functions. Our two brains are connected by what is called the corpus callosum.

This bundle of nerve fibers sends signals back and forth between your two hemispheres allowing for communication on sensory input. Your right hemisphere controls the left side of your body while your left hemisphere controls the right. Your left brain is primarily involved with language and the process of speaking and hearing. This part of the brain also deals with logic puzzles and hard mathematical computations. This is where the left- brain and right brain division has been taken too seriously.

Simply because someone is better at mathematics or logic puzzles than the other does not mean that their left brain is favored over their right. What is more likely is that they are simply more practiced in this skill set and/or enjoy it more. The same stands true for an individual’s right brain. Our right hemisphere primarily interprets emotional signals along with understanding spatial relations, but this understanding cannot occur without the help of our left brain.

Your strengths and weakness as an individual cannot be linked to hemispheric dominance. Rather, your strengths in the hard sciences or performing arts is a representation of your interests and background. The entirety of your brain is used to perform day to day tasks allowing you to be a functional individual in society. Do not be trapped by the labeling of you being a left or right brained individual. Understand that this is more of a metaphor and less of a fact.

 

Submitted by Maryah Burney, Marshall Math Science Academy

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