Left brained or right brained?

Ani Mosinyan

(April 2, 2013) — How do you describe yourself? Creative? Realistic? Logical? Imaginative? The mind works in fascinating ways. Or rather, I should say, the brain. Many have heard of the left-brain-right-brain theory: the left brain is literal and handles numbers and equations, while the right brain is responsible for emotions and colorful thought processes. Often times you’ll hear a person say, “I just don’t understand calculus. You know, that’s just me. I’m a right-brained person.” I find that this idea, or theory, can easily reveal a person’s character and explain the motives behind their actions or behavior. And interestingly enough, there appears to be some truth behind the two sided-brain theory. According to The Dana Foundation, the left hemisphere of the brain is responsible for “ processing language and producing speech, carrying out sequential processing of information, focusing attention, and inhibiting negative emotions.” The right hemisphere of the brain is responsible for producing imagination and “is used when rapid responses are demanded or emotions are expressed.” I may be judgemental when I say this, but I myself have noticed differences between people who depict the left brain characteristics and the people who depict the right brain characteristics. People who are quicker in their decisions, can calculate numbers and equations in their heads in no time, and are mentally organized, are the “leftys.” People who think with emotion, take more time with their decisions, and are able to conjure up innovative ideas are the “rightys.” Many will disagree with me, and I’m not 100% sold on this left-brain-right-brain theory either. According to cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham of the University of Virginia, a brain imaging revealed that 14 different areas of the brain take part in the sequencing process — a job that was to be taken care of only by the left hemisphere of the brain — and five areas in the left hemisphere, five in the right, and four in the bilateral. Willingham goes on to explain that the labeling of oneself as “left brained” or “right brained” does not carry any “scientific weight” and should be taken with a grain of salt. Now I am no neuroscientist; I don’t experiment, I merely observe. However, I have been assured numerous times that the people which we call “leftys” function with logic and lead with their mind, and the “rightys” lead with emotion and are more artistic. Many of the students in my ballet studio complain of their math and science classes, and are in love with their art and photography classes. Not to mention, my ballet instructor even struggled with her math classes, and joyously excelled in English and writing. Close friends of mine and even acquaintances have shown skill in one specific subject, such as science or computer skills, and others in art and music. By simply listening and observing, I have been able to understand the people in my life in a new light, and I have learned more about their characters and personalities. Although I’m no scientist or brain surgeon, I am a human being and am able to listen, comprehend, and better understand the behavior of individuals based on their likes, dislikes, and capabilities. And although this tale-of-the-two-hemispheres theory is still up for speculation, I have found that it best justifies a human’s behavior and character.