Your Right Brain and Left Brain
The words refer to the two hemispheres of the brain, which
in some ways do seem to be their own independent brains. Amazing
experiments involving people who have had the corpus callosum
cut have taught us most of what we know about the differences
between the two sides. This surgery is performed on epileptics
to reduce the incidence of seizures, and it isolates most of
the right hemisphere from the left hemisphere.
In a typical experiment, a divider lets the participant see
two objects - say, a cup with the right eye and a lemon with
the left. If asked about what they see, they will say they see
a cup, and nothing more. This is because most people process
both language and information from the right eye with
their left brain (left hemisphere). If they write down what they
see with their left hand, though, they will write "a lemon,"
because both the left hand and eye are controlled by the right
side of the brain.
We have only one brain, and the two hemispheres work together
normally. These experiments show how distinct they really are,
though. With the corpus callosum cut it is as if these people
really do have two brains. What differences are there then, and
how can you use both sides more effectively?
The following is true for more than 90% of right-handed people
and 70% of left-handed people. The left hemisphere:
- Processes things more sequentially.
- It is more rational, logical, analytical, and objective.
- It looks at the parts.
- It handles normal speech.
To stimulate and strengthen the thinking processes of the
"left brain," it may help to talk about things as logically
as you can. Picking apart an argument or something you read can
exercise this part of the brain too. There is little hard evidence
as to the effects of specific exercises, but obviously talking
or working on your analytical skills are safe things to do, so
experiment freely with these.
Again, the following is true for most people. The right hemisphere:
- Handles thing in more random and subjective manor.
- Is responsible for "hunches" and other intuitive
- Looks more at wholes, and is best at pattern-recognition.
To exercise your "right brain," you can sing (stutterers
find that they don't stutter when they sing, because it is handled
differently than regular speech). Free-form poetry and studying
maps may help as well. Again, these are unproven so far, but
there is no danger in experimenting in these areas.
Right Brain / Left Brain Dominance
Most people seem to favor one style or another of thinking.
This may be an indication of the dominance of one or the other
hemisphere. It seems likely that the choice between joining the
debating team or the art class in school has something to do
with which side is dominant. You may have noticed that left-handed
people, who presumably have a more developed right hemisphere,
are more often artists.
To be more "whole brained" in your approach to things,
you can start by working on your weakest areas, using some of
the tips above. You can also work on bringing both sides into
whatever you do. Metaphors, which are possibly a right-hemisphere
process, can be used in logical or left-hemisphere debate, for
example. Artistic endeavors can include more analysis. Will this
balance your thinking? Time and more research will tell, but
it can't hurt to more fully use your right and left brain.