Thursday, April 8, 2010

Left-brain or Right-brain?

I used to take art classes when I was younger and my teacher used to give me tests to see if my personality was more right-brained or left-brained. I was extremely right-brained, according to the tests, indicating that I am a very creative person with excellent spatial skills and who tends to be a visual learner. Although I am very visual, I'm also a writer, and I've always been great at math, which are indicators of a strong left-brained personality, but I believed the tests because my art teachers couldn't be wrong, could they?

The left-brain/right-brain theory arose in the 1800s when scientists realized that an injury to one side of the brain caused a loss of specific traits. in the 1960s, the thory became more popular when epilepsy patients who had the connection between the hemispheres severed were studied. Because the two hemispheres can't communicate, they each respond differently to stimuli. For example, a split-brain patient who is being shown an image in his/her left visual field will be unable to vocally name what he/she has seen. This is because images from the left visual field are sent to the right hemisphere of the brain; language, however, is localized in the left hemisphere.

While certain areas of the brain are specialized for particular functions, each hemisphere does not have exclusive traits. For example: The left-brain is not solely responsible for language. The left hemisphere processes grammer and pronounciation, while the right processes intonation. The right-brain is also not solely responsible for spatial abilities. The left hemisphere deals with objects in specific locations, while the right deals with a general sense of space.

Brain scan technology has revealed that the two hemispheres are co-dependent. Cognitive functions require the integrated actions of multiple brain regions in both hemispheres of the brain. Although we do have hemispheric dominance, that mostly determines handedness and does not mean that your personality or abilities are more right brain or left brain.

1 comment:

  1. I found this post rather interesting. Having heard this plenty of times throughout my life, I have always wondered whether or not there was any truth behind this myth. I figured being ambidextrous- writing with my right hand and doing basically everything else with my left- I should have some kind of exceptional skills because I apparently use both the left and right side of my brain, rather than let just one dominante over the other. Good to know that they are actually codependent and that I am still quite normal in that respect.