Right brain, left brain? Fact or fiction?

March 15, 2018

Throughout modern society the atmosphere that has been created is one based on labels. There are countless labels like nerd, jock, gamer, artist, loner, or party animal, and everyone seems to be put into some kind of category; however, there are two defined labels that have consistently been used in societies everywhere: left and right brained.

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The left and right brain theory has been around since the 1960s when a surgeon by the name of Roger W. Sperry conducted a series of 16 operations on the brain. Roger and his colleagues were attempting to relieve chronically ill epileptics by making an incision down the corpus callosum (the largest and most important structure that connects the left and right brain together).

Fortunately the surgeries were a huge success. The patients recovered and after the surgeries Sperry studied them closely, recognizing clear distinctions between the functions performed by each side of the brain. Upon this research, The New York Times published an article in 1973 titled, “We are left-brained or right-brained”, an article that was very vital in the spread of the theory that people could possibly be more dominant on one side of the brain than the other.

The right brain left brain argument has been a controversy among many health professionals since Roger Sperry’s initial discoveries. Evidence supporting Sperry’s theory shows that human behavior clearly does differ from person to person. Sperry’s theory of right-brained/left-brained people is fundamental to today’s society because it helps us understand why people are the way they are. 

The right-brained thinker is usually labeled to be strong in areas such as recognizing faces, expressing emotions, music, reading emotions, color, imagination, intuition, and most importantly, creativity. Typically right-brained people are the low attention-spanned dreamers bursting with creative ideas who excel in subjects that don’t usually involve a lot of logical thinking. People with the label of right brain tend to be more expressive emotionally and gravitate towards the fine arts as a way of expression.

Left-brained thinkers are typically experts in language, logic, critical thinking, numbers, and reasoning. With this label people are often assumed to be very dry and unapproachable in social environments, but tend to excel in environments where problem solving is vital. Often times left-brained people are very analytical and express passion in a very indifferent manner. Instead of using emotions to make decisions, the left-brained person will typically utilize the information they already possess to make the most logical choice.   

In a study done by the University of Utah in 2013,1000 brain scans were conducted on young people from the ages of seven to twenty nine. Researchers divided the brain in to 7000 different parts and the study showed that a consistent amount of activity existed in each person with both sides of the brain being equally active. Many argue that this study actually debunks the theory that people can be left-brained or right-brained.

Regardless of its scientific backing Sperry’s theory can be used to better understand people with different personality types, eliminating the long list of society’s stereotypes and giving us all something in common.

Viewing people as right-brained and left-brained thinkers makes it easier for us as a society to overcome differences and work together with more efficient communication and understanding.

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