Right brain/left brain, right?
If you’re anything like me, you have learned that about 90% of people in the world are right-handed, and most of the reason is genetic. That’s true, although it’s still a mystery why our genetic evolution resulted in so many more righties than lefties.
Handedness can be overcome for many tasks. For example, right-handed children learning to play baseball, tennis, or golf can successfully use their non-dominant hands. It may be more a matter of what gets reinforced and how they are taught than about a hard-wired preference for a singular hand.
According to research, the idea of people being “right-brained” or “left-brained” may be less fixed than originally thought.
According to traditional wisdom, people usually have a character, thinking style, or way of doing things, either left-brained or right-brained.
People who are right-brained are supposed to be creative and intuitive free thinkers. They tend to be “qualitative,” big-picture thinkers who experience the world in descriptive or subjective terms.
Left-brained people are usually more analytical and quantitative. They pay heed to details and are governed by logic.
These concepts of “left and right brain-ness” are widespread and widely believed. But they may also be incorrect.
There is some truth that some brain functions stay more on one side of the brain than the other. We know this partly from what is lost when a stroke influences a distinct part of the brain. For instance, it has been assumed for a long time that, in most people, the command of language resides in the left portion of the brain.
There are sections of the right half of the brain that controls the left leg and arm (and vice versa). Injury to the brain’s front part is associated with reduced motivation, difficulty planning, and diminished creativity.
In the meantime, the brain’s back (the occipital cortex) integrates visual data from the eye. Harm to this area can cause partial or total blindness. These are just some examples of how specific parts of the brain appear accountable for distinct functions. So, location definitely matters.
For more specific personality traits, such as creativity or a tendency to lean toward the rational instead of the intuitive, there has been little or no proof supporting a residency in one section of the brain.
The right-brain/left-brain myth?
So, is the concept of “thinking with the left side of your brain” a myth? Perhaps. But, the absence of proof does not verify the opposite. For people living hundreds of years ago, an incapacity to prove the earth was round did not determine that the earth was flat!
But, the evidence discrediting the left/right brain concept is growing.
The bottom line
If you’ve constantly thought of yourself as a creative sort or a “numbers person,” this research doesn’t alter anything. But it’s probably wrong to link these traits to one side of your brain. We still don’t know very much to determine what defines individual personality. Nevertheless, it seems unlikely that it’s the dominance of one side of the brain or another that truly matters.