LEFT AND RIGHT SIDES OF THE BRAIN: Which is your dominant side?
Trudell C. SmithDo you prefer to study lying down or sitting up erect? This question is not only relative to your study habits but also which part of the brain you use to study. The brain is divided into parts, labeled left and right cerebral hemispheres. The ways of knowing that these two hemispheres exist are because there appear to be two modes of thinking, verbal and nonverbal. The left mode is the "right-handed", left-hemisphere mode that is foursquare, upright, sensible, direct, true, hard-edged, unfanciful and forceful (1) . The right mode is the "left-handed, right hemisphere mode that is curvy, flexible, more playful in its unexpected twist and turns, more complex, diagonal and fanciful (1) . Later in this paper you will be able to take the Hemisphere Brain Dominance Test, to see which brain is more dominant than the other. Given by the brief descriptions of the two different modes, you may be able to tell why you prefer to study lying down or sitting up. Which is the your dominant side?
I know you are eager to take the Hemispheric Brain Dominance Test, but first let us understand the functions of each side of the brain. If you prefer to study lying down, you may use your right side to study more effectively. The right hemisphere processes information from whole to parts. Usually it sees the whole picture first before the details. If you are right brain, it may be difficult for you to follow a lecture without the professor had given the outline first. If that is the case, it may be best for you to read the chapter before class or ask the professor to give you the topic and outline of the next lecture. You may also have trouble writing outlines if you are right-brained. You would write the entire paper and then last, the outline (if required). The right hemisphere is spatial orientated, recognizes sequencing of symbols, objects, and events, appreciates music, non-verbal, emotional, empathic, witty and humorous. Other functions consist of drive, order, planning, and executive control (2) .
If you study sitting up erect, you may be left lobe. The left hemisphere of the brain processes information from part to whole. In order to draw conclusions, it first takes pieces, lines them up and arranges them in logical order. When left-brain students read or listen, they look for pieces so that they can draw logical conclusions. They have no problem comprehending or expression oral or written language. The functions of the left hemisphere of the brain are verbal, rational, realistic, and rigid. Some problematic characteristics, which exist in the right hemisphere of the brain, are emotional comprehension and procession of symbols.
Left-brain students are verbal and have little trouble expressing themselves in words. Right brain students know how they feel but have trouble expressing it in words. An excellent illustration (of those who are right brain) is directions given by a left or right brain person. A left-brain person will say, "From here, go past Taylor Hall, walk across Merion Green, and the Campus Center is on the right". In contrast, a right brain person would say, "Go straight up there (pointing straight), you'll see Senior's Row on left and Merion dorm on the right, but keep going straight and the Campus Center should be following Public Safety's office on the right". This is relevant to study strategies because right brain students need to see everything visually. Directions, from a right brain person, will be better illustrated and if it is not written it is probably hard to remember. Right brain students are creative and need interesting ways to retain information.
During the 1960s further research on the corpus callosum caused scientist to hypothesize the capabilities of the two sides. A summary of observations showed that the mode of the left hemisphere is verbal and analytic, while that of the right is nonverbal and global. Nearly 24 epileptic patients received a life-saving neurosurgical procedure in the 1960s in which the corpus callosum, a large commissure of some 200 million connecting the two cerebral hemispheres, was detached During the 1960s further research on the corpus callosum caused scientist to hypothesize the capabilities of the two sides. A summary of observations showed that the mode of the left hemisphere is verbal and analytic, while that of the right is nonverbal and global. Nearly 24 epileptic patients received a life-saving neurosurgical procedure in the 1960s in which the corpus callosum, a large commissure of some 200 million connecting the two cerebral hemispheres, was detached (3) . These operations were successful in controlling seizures, which the patients experienced every little side effect. These patients presented meuropsychologists with an opportunity to study the processes of each cerebral hemisphere individually. There exist a Split Brain experiment that is easy to do with your friends. To access the experiment click here(3) . Listed below is a chart of physically differences of each side of the brain that may be proven facts that there exist two halves with different function (3) . Left Right * Convolutions mature more rapidly * Convolutions mature less rapidly * Extends further posteriorly * Extends further anteriorly * Higher in density (more gray matter) * Larger and heavier * Planum temporate larger on left * Primary auditory larger on right * Larger insula * Smaller * Longer Sylvian fissure * Shorter * Double cingulated gyrus * Single * Larger lateral posterior nucleus * Larger medial geniculate nucleus * Larger inferior parietal lobule * Smaller This chart is used to show the structural asymmetries of the left and right side of the brain. Even though, these researches seem to have accurate data, there are myths about the brain's asymmetry. Some myths are that the left cerebral hemisphere is suppose to be the coldly logical, verbal and dominant half of the brain, while the right developed a reputation as the imaginative side, emotional, spatial aware but suppressed (6) . Most myths were created after the split-brain research in the 1960s, which Roger Sperry of Caltech won a Nobel Prize. In most of the test, both sides of the brain played an active role in such processes. It is believed that the hemispheric research is young and the important features, in further research, should be how the two sides of the brain complement and combine in further research(6) .
There are some differences between the left and right hemisphere of the brain but there is a pattern. The left-brain strategies are most often used in classrooms, where right brain students sometimes feel inadequate. However, you can be flexible and adapt material to the right side of your brain. Likewise, if you are predominately left brain, it is good to use both sides of the brain. We seem to forget to use the right side of the brain, which interprets information visually, creatively, and emotionally (5) . One of the reasons why tests are done on hemispheric dominance is to encourage usage of the right side of the brain for learning. No one is totally left-brained or right-brained. Just as you have a dominant hand, eye, and foot, you probably have a dominant side of the brain. Now is the time to see which side of the brain you use the most: Hemisphere Brain Dominance Test (4) .
Additional functions that consist of the right hemisphere are that it controls the movement of left body and the left voluntary gaze. Likewise, the left hemisphere controls movement of the right body and the right voluntary gaze (2) . Based on the lab done in class about the "Think-Act", the question was raised whether it takes time to think? I raise a few new questions, if the quick reaction of thinking is relevant to the reading of shapes/words? What effects of thinking time have on the clicking of the mouse with the right/left hand? These two questions will be great to find out because if there is a consistency in the results there could be a difference between the right and left lobe functions. For right lobe consist of symbols and fundamentals of the left side of the body and the left lobe consist of language and fundamentals of the right side of the body.
I hope everyone enjoyed reading this web paper. My purpose was to help students improve their study habits and learn about the way they think. Understanding a person's weaknesses/strengths is helpful in relationships, as well. After I did the test, I learned that I am a right brain student; therefore, I tried to get an early start this paper. In order to keep an open mind, knowing that this research is probably superstitious, always take what you have learned and critic it. I hope to give new lab procedures for next year when the students do the "Act-Think" test. This way they will learn about themselves and not how well they think but how they think.
WWW Sources1)Left and Right Sides of the Brain .
3)Cerebral Asymmetry .
5)Left/Right Brain .
Comments made prior to 2007
Thanks for the nice article on the brain . I had to do some research for my physiology class on the dominant left and right sides of the brain . Your article is the best I found on the whole web. Thanks !!! ... Maria, 15 March 2006
I have read ur article about the left and right hemispheres of the brain and the effect of the binaural heat technology. I am a right eared person.... my left ear doesnt work.... i hear with my right ear alone and doesnt use any hearing aids...It is practically difficult for me to analyse the sound source. Does this have an influence on the binaural heat... Does it affect the performance of my brain....
I am a studious person..... excelling above 85% in my studies.... But when i read ur article about the binaural.... i just couldnt help asking? ... Gogi, 24 March 2006