It has been proven that by the time we are about two years old, one hemisphere of our brain starts to dominate our decision-making process. Although, during the learning process at any point there is no “left brain only” or “right brain only” function. Contrary to what many people assume, we are not limited to one aspect of our brain or the other, as we may say, “I’m left-brained” or “I am right-brained”. Instead, the dominant side of our brain signifies how we prefer to learn and process information.
The left hemisphere focuses on analytical thought. It is responsible for organizing concepts such as analyzing information, rules, discipline, logic, rationality, categorizing, science, mathematics, as well as general knowledge, planning, physical activity and much more. As we grow up, our education and society surrounding us primarily focuses our attention to the left-brain activities.
On the other side, the right brain sifts through intuition, emotions, daydreaming, creativity, color, visualizing, and spatial awareness, among other operations. Did you know that risk-taking occurs in the right side of the brain? It is also responsible for learning by experience, play, humor, motor skills, and so on.
Both brain hemispheres are incredibly important. Yet, in many instances throughout our lives, society, friends, employers, and other groups may tell us that one section is better than the other. Clearly, this is not true. However, it is important to exercise both sides of our brains in order to be well balanced and versatile. It is also worth your time to first assess how either left-brained or right-brained you are and then try various exercises to work out a particular side of the brain.
One of the best tests I have taken thus far is the Right Brain versus Left Brain Creativity Test from the Art Institute of Vancouver. I am not sure exactly what I expected my brain to be like, but it was quite comforting to read the result: Left Brain 51% and Right Brain 49%. Reading my result and the summaries following that have helped me understand why I feel so conflicted sometimes. I am practically a split down the middle!
To no surprise, my left-brain’s strongest category is “Reality-based Processing”. My family is constantly teasing me about how realistic I can be. The second strongest is “Verbal Processing”, which explains why direct, logically verbal explanations suffice for me to do what I need to do. On the other side, my right brain’s strongest learning category is “Holistic Processing”—how to view the big picture first and process information. The second is “Fantasy-Oriented Processing”, which provides creativity and welcomes emotions. By first recognizing what conflict I experience with each part of my brain, I then began to learn what to look for in everyday life. Over time, it has become easier for me to switch between the two different ways of operating.
Just as I am learning, fully understanding how your individual brain operates can tell you the exact nature of each of your brain’s halves’ capability to correspond with one another, and how that communication affects your life regarding how you learn, interpret information, remember and consider problems.
Here are a few other left-brains versus right-brain assessments to take:
After learning more about your current ratio of each brain hemisphere, then you are ready to decide which side of your brain to exercise, and when. Just as with physical exercise, it is important to purposefully train both sides of your brain to function the very best it can. Performing these types of exercises will help keep you mentally sharp and well rounded.
To exercise the left part of your brain, choose from the following examples:
- Word games such as themed crossword puzzles, word searches, etc.
- Math problems and interactive online games
- Writing in a journal or blogging
- Reading the newspaper, online how-to articles and anything that is informative in nature
To exercise the right part of your brain, choose from the following exercises:
- Draw and doodle on paper
- Use clay or play-doh, make pottery, etc.
- Make origami
- Listen to classical or a similar type of music while painting or sifting through pictures to form a collage
- Start learning to knit or sew
So, which part of your brain is most dominant? Is it easy for you to believe, reflecting on your usual behavior and thought patterns? Whichever side is weaker would be a great starting place to perform some of the suggested exercises above. Let me know how it goes!