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Left and Right Brain Hemispheres

April 17th, 2012

Blog Format

I have always been very interested in how our brain works. Today I wanted to talk a little about the differences between the two hemispheres of our brain, how to understand them and make the best out of it.

brain-hemispheres

As you can see on the picture above, the brain has two distinct cerebral hemispheres, connected only by a band of nerve fibres called the corpus callosum. Even though they look anatomically the same, their cognitive functions are very different.

Although we use our whole brain to process information, most of us has a predominant hemisphere which, to a great extent, determines the way we learn and interact with the world.

Being aware of our brain-hemisphere predominance can be very useful:

  • It can help us understand our unique learning style
  • It can help us unleash more of our brain potential
  • It can bring some perspective and deeper understanding of others

Most school systems tend to favor left-brain modes of thinking, while downplaying right-brain ones. Ideally, education systems should address and honor the learning differences of each individual.
If you are wondering what are some differences between individuals with a right or left hemisphere predominance, here are some facts:

Left-brain subjects tend to focus on logical thinking, analysis, and accuracy, while Right-brained subjects focus more on aesthetics, feelings, and creativity. Here below is a chart that lists some characteristics of individuals with left or right brain predominance.

LEFT BRAIN RIGHT BRAIN
Processes in a linear, logical and sequential manner Processes in a holistic, intuitive and random manner
Is more verbal (for instance recalls people's names) Is more visual (recalls people's faces)
Responds to word meaning Responds to tone of voice
Responds to logic Responds to emotion
Plans ahead Is more spontaneous
Relies on reality, facts Relies on imagination, possibilities

To explain a little further LBS (left-brain subjects) vs. RBS (right-brain subjects)

Linear vs. Holistic:
LBS process information in a linear, sequential manner, from part to whole. RBS process information from whole to part, in a holistic way, they start with the answer and see the big picture before the details.

Logical vs. Intuitive
LBS look for pieces, arrange them in order and then draw logical conclusions. RBS instead, use intuition and feeling in order to find answers.

Sequential vs. Random
LBS process in sequence: in order. RBS use a random approach instead.

Verbal vs. Non-verbal
LBS have little trouble expressing thoughts in words. RBS may know what they mean but often have trouble finding the right words.

Symbolic vs. Concrete
LBS have no trouble processing symbols. The left-brained person tends to be comfortable with linguistic and mathematical endeavors. RBS, on the other hand, want things to be concrete, they need to see, feel, or touch the real object.

Reality Based vs. Possibility Oriented
LBS deal with things the way they are, if they are affected by the environment, they usually adjust to it. Not so with RBS, if they are affected by the environment, they try to change it!

It is important to note that both hemispheres of the brain deal with functions that are totally valid and complementary, thus, the ideal is to find a healthy balance between both sides, but this is only possible if we are aware of our predominance and work towards reaching a balance.

You can take this short Quiz (developed by Middle Tennessee State University), that will give you an idea of your brain predominance.

Also, I recently watched the video below, from the TED series, and it relates to this topic. It is worth watching. Enjoy!

JillBolteTaylor

Have a great week!

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