Updated: May 25
Learning more about our brain hemispheres and debunking myths
The human brain is one of the most complex organs to exist within the body. There are three subdivisions of the brain, the forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain which are all responsible for different functions which we use daily, for example the hindbrain which is responsible for motor activity, sleep, and wakefulness. The brain is a phenomenon to us still to this present day. It is an ever-evolving wonder which we continue to learn about and continue to gain fascinating insight into thanks to the growing research from experts who study it. One particularly interesting discovery has been the differences in the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Whilst painting a picture have you ever wondered which side of the brain is responsible for that action?
The cerebral cortex covers the surface of the brain, it consists of a thin sheet of neurons intricately folded to cover a large area, the grooves are known as sulci. The most pronounced sulcus is the deep groove which divides the brain into two hemispheres, the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere.
The right hemisphere is responsible for creative and expressive tasks such as painting, drawing, acting or creating music. This explains how some people seem to be inherently creative where others are logical and some people express creativity with a seemingly natural ease. This could have a huge influence on hobbies, which school subjects people prefer and do better in and could even affect employment choices. Surely, someone who possesses this creativity is more likely to pursue a career in the arts. So, next time you tap into your creativity and paint a picture you know that it is your right hemisphere responsible for this. Other tasks which are associated with being ‘right brained’ are expressing emotions, being intuitive, facial recognition and being imaginative.
The left hemisphere is responsible for more logical tasks such as doing mathematics, analytical thinking and critical thinking. Again, this is sure to have an influence on many areas of your life. If you have good math skills and are able to maintain logical thinking and reasoning even during events where most would be become emotional, you may find yourself an excellent lawyer or mathematician in your future career direction. So, if maths was your favourite subject at school there is a good chance you could be ‘left brained’. Other traits which are associated with the left hemisphere include reasoning, logic and language.
So, are you left brained or right brained, which side of your brain is more dominant? From what you have read so far you can see the type of traits associated with each side of the brain. If you are more creative, emotional or artistic you would most likely be ‘right brained’. Whereas if you are logical, analytical and good with numbers you would be thought to be ‘left brained’.
Personally, I see myself as right brained. This is because I have always enjoyed being creative, especially in my younger school years, I definitely preferred creative subjects which left room for imagination over subjects like maths where there is one correct answer. I also see myself as more emotional than logical. This could even explain why I chose to do a psychology degree, although psychology is a science which involves statistics and research skills, in practice it requires compassion, sensitivity and empathy, which are traits associated with the emotionality of being ‘right brained’.
The age-old debate, nature vs nurture is particularly relevant here. Are the traits associated with being either left or right brained genetically inherited as suggested or are they in fact based on environmental factors such as upbringing, culture and childhood experiences? For example, good math skills are seen as a ‘left brained’ trait, however countless hours of practice and tutoring could also lead to excellent math skills. Likewise, being raised by parents who have a love of art could mean focusing actively on skills such as drawing, painting and more time spent in places like art museums where artistic ability can be nurtured and therefore result in a very artistic child who could be perceived as ‘right brained’, but in fact gained these skills through encouragement. Understanding brain hemispheres means learning more about our own characteristics, so even if certain skills can be nurtured, the ones that seem innate and come effortlessly can be understood by our left brain, right brain example.
Myth or truth? The idea of one side of the brain being dominant has been debunked in some recent research. Neuroscientists claim that both sides of the brain work together to complete many different necessary tasks and in fact complement each other. The two sides of the brain are able to communicate through the corpus callosum which connects the right and left hemispheres and delivers messages from one half of the brain to the other. It is said that according to a study done, ability in subjects such as maths are strongest when both sides of the brain work together. This means that in actuality, one side of the brain does not dominate our behaviour, but rather all areas of the brain dominate human behaviour by working in cohesion and that brain functions are not so easily compartmentalized. Nevertheless, I am sure many will continue to identify as either left or right brained as it is an interesting way to understand more about our brains and recognize our strengths and weaknesses!
BLOGGER - Evelyn Baafi
My name is Evelyn Baafi, I am a second-year undergraduate psychology student, and I am interested in all thing’s psychology related! Particularly in understanding the complexity of human issues and emotions as well as the prevention and relieving of serious mental health problems which is why I hope to pursue clinical psychology as career.