“Right Brain/Left Brain” Idea May Be Lopsided

Have you ever had a right brain/left brain conversation with a friend to try to figure out what “type” you are? Don’t pigeon-hole yourself just yet. While there are a lot of pop-culture references to the right-brain/left-brain theory, they are often misinformed.

We know that each side (hemisphere) of the brain controls different types of thinking: the right side is responsible for recognizing faces and expression of emotions, the left for language, logic, reasoning and critical thinking. Intuitive, creative people who are thoughtful and subjective are called right-brainers while those who are logical, analytical, objective decision makers are called left-brainers.

Another Side to Right Brain/Left Brain

While some research supports the right brain/left brain theory, other studies also indicate that the brain is more integrated. For example, a American Psychological Association study found that mathematically gifted middle-school students did better at solving problems when both sides of their brain worked together, compared to students with average mathematical skills. The study results support the idea that mathematically gifted students are better at relaying and integrating information between the brain’s right and left hemispheres.

In the end, we need more research to further determine how different parts of the brain work together. Brain mapping, for example, examines the network of cells spanning the brain across lobes and right and left hemispheres. The right brain/left brain theory is just one mystery of neuroscience to unravel in the future.

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