Do you like to think about things and plan them out? Or do you feel more free-spirited and artistic? If you are the first type then people might have told you that your brain is on the left side. If you are the second type, people might have told you that your brain is on the right side. In popular psychology, it is said that each half of our brains can be dominant in different traits.
There is a small industry for people who want to help you use your mind. There are books, tests, therapies and materials that can help you get better at using the stronger side of your brain. It also has things for people who have trouble with the weaker side of their brain. They even have information to help stop the two halves from battling inside your head so you can get peace and quiet.
The idea that there are right-brained and left-brained people is not true. It is a myth. We all have different personalities and talents, but there is no reason to believe these differences can be explained by the dominance of one half of the brain over the other half.
Using brain imaging technology, scientists have found no evidence that people are right or left dominant.(1) One of the flaws in this myth is that it relies on vague assumptions about what abilities are on which side of the brain. For example, math is generally said to be in the left part of the brain and far away from all those artsy right-brain abilities.
Mathematics is a creative thing that also makes sense. So, can a mathematician be left-brained or right-brained? If you are gifted in math, then you might be able to do it with either side of your brain. If you’re an artist, it might not just be something that you feel or feel like doing. You might need to think about things and make careful plans for your art.
There is a myth about right-brained and left-brained people. A part of this myth is true. The right and left sides of the brain do specialize in different tasks, but they are not all creativity on the right side and logic on the left. Science has learned much about this from studying people who had their brains split by surgery to cure seizures.
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In the 1940s, doctors found that by cutting the corpus callosum (the bundle of nerve fibers that connects the two hemispheres of the brain) seizures could be reduced in patients with otherwise unmanageable epilepsy. The procedure is seldom performed today because new drugs and treatments have been developed. After surgery, people had normal intellectual and emotional functioning and seemed to only have mild difficulties.
More detailed examinations showed that there are differences in the two halves of your brain. The right side of your brain is good at tasks that require spatial skills, while the left side of your brain is better at speaking and solving problems.(2)
Some people believe that people are either left- or right-brained. There is no evidence for this, but some people still believe it. It may be because their hands, feet, or eyes are on that side of the body. Or it might be because they like to have different types of people in their lives and this idea allows them to do so. Most people (the Myers-Briggs personality test, for example) are as true as horoscopes. But these tests have something called the Barnum effect. The Barnum effect is when people read statements that sound like they were about them and they think it’s real even when everyone can see it’s not true.
The right-brain/left-brain myth is similar to other myths. It tells you that you are one thing or another. The descriptions are good, but they can’t be true because there is no such thing as left brain and right brain. The myth is popular because it gives a scientific way to talk about ourselves, our favorite subject.