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Right Brain vs. Left Brain – Differences with Examples

Differences Between Right Brain & Left Brain

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Right Brain vs. Left Brain
 Jack Morgan   Published On Aug 04, 2020 | Updated on Dec 06, 2023  Writing Service

Some people believe that a person is either left-brained or right-brained and that this determines the way they think and behave. From books to television programs, you've probably heard the phrases left brain thinker and right brain thinker mentioned numerous times. You've probably also spotted at least on different social media platforms such as Facebook or Pinterest claiming to reveal your dominant brain hemisphere. And maybe you have come across a few articles or books suggesting you can unleash the hidden creativity of right brain thinking or the deductive logic of left-brain thinking. According to conventional wisdom, people tend to have a personality, thinking style, or way of doing things that is either right-brained or left-brained. While there is indeed some scientific explanation regarding the matter, there is also a lot of left brain right brain myth. In this article, therefore, we explore the truth and fallacy behind this claim. Read on to learn more about the functions and characteristics of the left and right brain.

What is brain and how it works

Every animal you can think of -- mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and amphibians -- has a brain. But the human brain is unique. Although it's not the largest, it gives us the power to speak, imagine and problem solve. It is truly an amazing organ. Our brain works like a big computer. It processes information that it receives from the senses and body, and sends messages back to the body. But the brain can do much more than a machine can: humans think and experience emotions with their brain, and it is the root of human intelligence.

The human brain is roughly the size of two clenched fists and weighs about 1.5 kilograms. From the outside it looks a bit like a large walnut, with folds and crevices. Brain tissue is made up of about 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) and one trillion supporting cells which stabilize the tissue. There are various sections of the brain, each with their own functions, such as:

  • the cerebrum
  • the diencephalon – including the thalamus, hypothalamus and pituitary gland
  • the brain stem – including the midbrain, pons and medulla
  • the cerebellum

The brain contains billions of nerve cells arranged in patterns that coordinate thought, emotion, behavior, movement and sensation. A complicated highway system of nerves connects your brain to the rest of your body, so communication can occur in split seconds. Think about how fast you pull your hand back from a hot stove. While all the parts of your brain work together, each part is responsible for a specific function — controlling everything from your heart rate to your mood.

Left brain vs. Right brain

The human brain is an intricate organ. It contains about 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion connections. Your brain is command central of all you think, feel, and do. It is divided into two halves, or hemispheres. Within each half, particular regions control certain functions. The two sides of your brain look very much alike, but there’s a huge difference in how they process information. Despite their contrasting styles, the two halves of your brain don’t work independently of each other. This first came to light in the 1960s, thanks to the research of psychobiologist and Nobel Prize winner Roger W. Sperry. According to the theory of left-brain or right-brain dominance, each side of the brain controls different types of thinking. This theory is based on the fact that the brain’s two hemispheres function differently. In psychology, the theory is based on the lateralization of brain function.

Brain traits (Left and right brain characteristics)

According to Sperry’s dated research, the left brain is more verbal, analytical, and orderly than the right brain. It’s sometimes called the digital brain. It’s better at things like reading, writing, and computations. Some of the other left brain characteristics are:

  • logic
  • sequencing
  • linear thinking
  • mathematics
  • facts

The right brain is more visual and intuitive. It’s sometimes referred to as the analog brain. It has a more creative and less organized way of thinking. Some of the other right brain characteristics are:

  • Imagination
  • holistic thinking
  • intuition
  • arts
  • rhythm
  • nonverbal cues
  • feelings visualization

Thus, it makes the right side of the brain the creative side of brain - which side of the brain is creative. Whereas those who are left brain dominant, are said to be more analytic and objective, it being the logical side of the brain.

The left brain-- right brain myth

Although it is a hugely popular concept, and has almost become a common knowledge, scientists suggest that the whole left brain vs. right brain debate is a myth. A team of neuroscientists at the University of Utah set out to test this premise. After a two-year analysis, they found no proof that this theory is correct. Magnetic resonance imaging of 1,000 people revealed that the human brain doesn’t actually favor one side over the other. The networks on one side aren’t generally stronger than the networks on the other side. The two hemispheres are tied together by bundles of nerve fibers, creating an information highway. Although the two sides function differently, they work together and complement each other. You don’t use only one side of your brain at a time.

Left vs. right brain and how it can impact learning

While the idea that people are more left-brained or right-brained may seem harmless, there are some real concerns about the existence of this myth in educators and students alike. Educators are increasingly encouraged to attend courses on “brain-based learning.” These courses often illustrate how ingrained these neuromyths have become. For example, some brain-based learning courses encourage educators to identify students as left-brained or right-brained and to adjust their teaching approach for these different learning styles. As a result, many teachers believe that this is a valid, scientifically backed idea. Meanwhile, if students internalize this neuromyth it could impact their sense of self-efficacy— the beliefs and confidence a student has about his or her ability to perform and succeed at an academic task. Therefore, if a student is labeled as a “right-brained” person, for example, that could negatively impact his or her beliefs about his or her ability to perform math-related tasks, which in turn could make the student less likely to succeed in math.

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