Right Brain/Left Brain – Part 1*
* This is a summarized version. If you need more details about this topic, please download the MP3 file, from the store section.
The human brain is a unique and a very complex organ. According to a research by medicine faculty of University of Lausanne in 2000, the brain represents only 2% of the body weight, it receives 15% of the cardiac output, 20% of total body oxygen consumption, and 25% of total body glucose utilization.
For hundreds of years, scientists thought that the human brain consists of one part. Only recently within the last forty years, has science discovered that our brain is made up of two halves, a left brain and a right brain. Scientists who studied the brain for many decades, to understand how it functions have found that it has two halves that are connected by a complex network of nerve fibers. Advances in new technologies like genetic mapping and magnetic imaging enabled researchers to identify and discover the secrets of the brain. A new brain scan technique called Positron Emission Tomography (PET) discovered new findings about the brain. The newly emerging field of neuroscience has confirmed that the brain is divided laterally into two hemispheres, left and right. This theory of right-left brain was developed by the American neuropsychologist Roger W. Sperry in the late 1960s. His work about split-brain theory qualified him to receive the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1981. This theory states that the two hemispheres of the brain functions like two different personalities with their own way of processing information. We all use both sides of the brain, but each of us has a dominant side, and this dominant side makes up for a huge part of our personalities.
Differences Between Right-Left Brain:
We now know that different parts of the brain control different bodily and mental functions. Our right and left hemispheres control the 'opposite' side of our bodies. The right part of the brain controls our left side while the left part controls the right side. The theory of right/left brain suggests that we think differently according to which part of the brain we use. Neuroscientists, like Roger Sperry and Michael Gazzaniga, could present stimuli to just one hemisphere or the other at a time, and they discovered that the two halves of the brain acted like independent entities with contrasting processing styles. Both sides of the brain can reason but by different way of thinking. It is like the two different parts of the brain have two different modes of thinking. We tend to use one mode over the other, and therefore, one part of the brain is said to be the dominant side that we use. The term right brained or left brained describes the dominant type of thinking of the person. An accurate understanding of this theory is helpful to boost creativity and productivity, as well as learning abilities.
Let us look at how differently the two hemispheres of the brain function.
It is described as holistic or global. It prefers to learn the global picture first then go to the specifics. It thinks by the broad or background picture. Because it has a panoramic focus, it can see general connections. It is like a simultaneous processor. It can detect emotional and metaphorical aspects of speech. It is the emotional side. It deals with images, imagination and patterns. It thinks by intuition and gut feeling to solve problems and process information, and therefore, it is subjective. It is also called the Artistic Brain as it is the source of creativity and imagination. It is where faith is stored.
It is analytic in approach. It is logical, verbal and objective. It prefers to learn in a step-by-step sequential way, beginning with details leading to a conceptual understanding of a skill. It is like a successive processor. It is interested in the detail.
It uses logic to process information. It sees problems as equations that can be solved. It thinks by using rules and practices to deal with new ideas. It tends to organize and categorize information. It connects new information with old to reach conclusions. It mainly deals with words, numbers and reasoning, "the so-called academic activities". It is, therefore, called the Academic Brain. It is dominant for language.
The Two sides:
The two hemispheres work in harmony, and we use both sides for nearly everything we do. For example, if the right brain sees the picture, the left hemisphere sees the component of the picture. The right side thinks in big picture while the left side zooms in on the detail.
Depending on how you use your right or left brain, this will have many effects on your personality including your decision making, problem–solving style and even career choices. It is important to realize that the two hemispheres usually work congruently and smoothly with each other in healthy persons, under natural conditions. However, because of our education system, the right brain has become underdeveloped, for 98% of the population. And there is a direct link between stress and underdeveloped right-brain.