Stop limiting yourself by labeling yourself left or right brained


It is popular in some circles to obsess over so-called “left-brained” versus “left-brained” characteristics, or even people. There are whole books hyping up such a distinction, and even promoting one or the other.

Now, there actually is such a thing as lateralization of brain function. But the popular stereotypes go well beyond the scientific findings on brain structure and function (which are subjects of continuing research, of course).

Actually, I’ve noticed that this whole notion is used as a weapon. For example, consultants sell their services to supposedly promote “right-brained creativity” in corporate settings. Or scientists who consider themselves left-brained make fun of the woo-woo artists who are helplessly right-brained. Or artists pride themselves on apparently having no left brain and therefore being warmer and more creative, something like that. I hear this kind of talk at parties.

30 second brain test

Not long ago, I came across a “30 second brain test” purporting to measure your brain dominance. This is not the first time I’ve encountered a test like this. And as always, I scored heavily right-brained. (My results.) This doesn’t mean much to me. I can explain how some of my answer preferences came about by sheer accident. For example, I was taught by my father to fold my arms a certain way, and so that explains that. I don’t “identify” as a right-brainer.

Those of us who have an intact corpus callosum have the two brain hemispheres connected and communicating anyway.

Looking at handedness

Even when it comes to a subset of brain usage, something as simple as left or right hand preference, when I catalog my hand usage, I find that I am split almost completely down the middle over dozens of activities, and that other than some very strong right hand preferences for writing and throwing, I have a lot of very strong left hand preferences also, and many of them are learned.

And in many cases, the learning to use the left hand has to do with efficiency: my right hand is already doing something. Some examples:

Top and bottom brain

Some interesting recent research has been illuminating a lot more about the brain. For example, a recent article talks about a notion of “top brain” versus “bottom brain”.

Hopefully this new research won’t spawn another wave of avid self-identification. I don’t know. This article was excerpted from a new popular science book. Maybe it will hit the party conversation circuit.

Meanwhile, how about just not categorizing yourself, but developing your whole brain?

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