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Left- And Right-Brain Dominance Is A Myth

The human brain is divided into hemispheres and cortexes that interrelate to one another in more complicated ways than the right-left divide that modern folklore claims. (image source: wikipedia.org)

If you have been dissing some people for being either too “left-brained” or too “right-brained,” you may have it all wrong. A recent study by the University of Utah claims that even though the left hemisphere of the brain is associated with logical, analytical thinking and the right hemisphere with creativity and intuition, there is no evidence to suggest that individuals exhibit dominance in either part. People seem to be using both sides fairly consistently throughout their lives, with none of the two hemispheres every taking over the reins completely.

In other words, an individual’s personality traits are affected by something other than left- or right-brain use. The anal-retentiveness that defines some people and the neurotic mess that defines others comes down to things more complicated than brain hemisphere dichotomy.

Yet, being the eternal sceptic, let me propose that the study did not examine conditions in the field i.e. in real life, where context may be associated with left- or right-brain processing. Certain faces or prospects, sounds or actions, places or memories, all in conjunction with one’s sense of hierarchy, and one’s set of objectives at any given point in one’s life, may trigger an asymmetrical number of left-right brain processing, skewing the seemingly-even distribution found in the lab and making a person left- or right-brained, in practical terms.

Such a study has not taken place, of course. Until it does, we need to go by the findings of the University of Utah and accept the possibility that people are more logical than creative, or vice versa, not because a part of their brain is “dominant,” but because they choose to exercise their mind at will, operating in Mode A rather than B, heading in one of many directions.

The brain is, after all, plastic, able to adapt beautifully to changing circumstances. Individuals with partial brain damage have consistently shown the ability to rewire healthy parts of their cortexes to compensate for the damage.

The brain is also a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Its every region and neural pathway plays a role in how humans sense, think, and behave. There are people who can be both logical and creative, analytical and intuitive at the same time. It’s never black or white, left or right. It’s about having a smart, generative and evolving super-organ at your disposal, which you can use accordingly.

For the original study, click here.

This article was first published in Urban Times. 

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