Right Brain-Left Brain- Part 2*
* This is a summarized version. If you need more details about this topic, please download the MP3 file, from the store section.
1-The Domination of the Left-Brain:
Using both sides of the brain equally enables the person to adjust and respond well to different life situations. However, research shows that we tend to be dominated by the left side of our brain. Some studies state that we use our left brain 85% of the time, because we analyze language, think of sequences, interpret information and communication and use logic to understand new facts from our world. Our fast-moving world with too much information necessitates that we use more our left side of the brain in order to assimilate and absorb these information. Furthermore, our educational systems promote left-brain thinking, and therefore, the average student becomes dominant in the left hemisphere. This will be at the expense of the right brain.
Traditional learning methods put a lot of emphasis on examinations. Learning is based mainly on words, teachers lectures, textbooks, and writing. These activities belong to the left side of the brain, and in the process make it the more dominant side. Research has shown that while one hemisphere is actively processing information, the other hemisphere tends to rest. If one side of the brain is not exercised enough, it may not develop adequately. According to Roger Sperry, who is one of the founders of right-left brain theory: “The main theme to emerge… is that there appear to be two modes of thinking, verbal and nonverbal, represented rather separately in left and right hemispheres respectively and that our education system, as well as science in general, tends to neglect the nonverbal form of intellect. What it comes down to is that modern society discriminates against the right hemisphere.” Tony Schwartz, in his best selling book The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, states that right side of our brains is under-developed.
2-The Right Brain and Stress:
The right brain has many functions, including stress modulation, and stress management.
Recent research shows a direct link between under-developed right hemisphere and higher stress level.
When we use the right brain, we activate the parasympathetic nervous system (as opposed to the adrenaline releasing sympathetic system, of the left brain). The parasympathetic system is responsible for lowering stress and feeling better. The right side has more norepinephrine, while the left side has neurotransmitter dopamine. Norepinephrine is considered as a stress hormone. The right brain is also responsible for releasing endorphins. Endorphins have many beneficial effects mainly triggering positive feelings in the body, similar to that of morphine. In addition to decreased feelings of pain, secretion of endorphins leads to feelings of euphoria, modulation of appetite, release of sex hormones, and enhancement of the immune response. For example, the feeling that follows a good exercise is often described as "euphoric." That feeling, known as a "runner's high." The reason that sports and exercise are very effective in relieving stress is because that these activities are endorphins-based and these endorphins are right-brain oriented.
Studies show that when you're stressed out the brain’s neural circuits are limited to the left hemisphere. As soon as you begin to activate the right hemisphere you balance the brain, and you start to become more relaxed, and will be able more able to lower stress. If you feel under pressure, this is a signal from your brain that you have been using your left brain more than you should.
According to a study by Dr. Bradley Peterson of Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, brain scans showed a 28-percent thinning in the right cortex — the outer layer of the brain — in people who had a family history of depression compared with people who did not. Dr. Peterson said this : “Our findings suggest rather strongly that if you have thinning in the right hemisphere of the brain, you may be predisposed to depression and may also have some cognitive and inattention issues.”
3- The Right Brain and Sports Performance:
Experts have found that right-brain activation is also important for athletic performance. The following details are based on a study in 1994 by Aerobics and Fitness Association of America:
“Sports experts are finding there are optimal states of mind conducive to peak sports performance. This optimum mental state is called "automatic flow," according to Debra Crews, Ph.D., an assistant professor in exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Her theory: By turning down the engine of the left brain (the analytical, decision-making zone) and revving up the right brain (the intuitive, creative, spontaneous zone), athletes can grasp new skills and concepts on a profound and potentially deeper level. In one study, Crews asked 34 skilled golfers (17 men, 17 women) to attempt 240 12-foot putts. Her initial prediction was right on target. The better performers showed a significant increase in right-hemisphere activity immediately prior to initiating the stroke, while their left brains slumbered. "The best players tuned out the analytical side of their minds by focusing solely on the target and their general feel for the shot," she says. "The worst players tuned into their left-hemispheres, using verbal cues to guide them (keep your body still; keep your head straight)."
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Different studies and research prove the importance of using the right-brain. PET scans and neuroscience technology show that the right brain regulates or influences many aspects of our behavior. We now know that our happiness is based, significantly, on using our right side of the brain.
Unfortunately, in this world of the information age, we have become accustomed to using more of our left-brain at the expense of our right-brain. This could be one the major causes of rising depression rate worldwide. Figures released by the World Health Organization show that depression could be the second highest fatal disease worldwide by 2020.It is interesting to realize that we were born to be right-brain thinkers. Research shows that 98% of the population are born to be right brained. By age 7,only 10% of students are still right-brained. By the age 14,or adulthood age, only 2% of the population remains right-thinkers. Other studies state that children before age 7 are the ultimate whole-brained thinkers.
The trend towards left-brain thinking is not diminishing. However, we can learn tools and exercises that help us to be more balanced in our thinking. Studies have found many empirical evidences about techniques useful and helpful in directing our thinking more towards the right.