By Hana Frenette
The human brain is the command center for everything you do, learn, say and think. It’s a complex organ with trillions of intricacies and connections.
The brain contains two twin hemispheres, each with different regions that perform and process specific functions. While there are two separate and distinct sides of your brain, they function jointly and are in continuous communication through a network of nerve fibers.
It’s a popular belief that people are left-brained or right-brained, depending on their personalities, with left-brained people being more logical and right-brained people leaning more toward the creative side.
You may have even seen articles promising to help you tap into the imagination of your right-brain, or the methodical side of your left-brain. While there is some truth in the idea that different parts of the brain execute specific tasks, the idea that someone tends to use more of one side of their brain than the other is a myth!
The left-brain right-brain theory became popular in the 1960s after Nobel Prize winner and psychologist Roger W. Sperry shared his body of research that suggested the brain’s two hemispheres functioned differently.
Spencer hypothesized that the left brain dealt with logic, linear thinking, mathematics and thinking in words, while the right brain was connected to intuition, art, nonverbal communication and the imagination. He wasn’t wrong to conclude that each side of the brain operates differently, but he failed to note how both sides work in tandem with one another.
Debunking an Old Theory
A 2013 study from the University of Utah used brain scans to demonstrate that activity on either side of the brain is similar regardless of your personality or preference for logic over intuition.
The study reviewed MRI brain scans of more than 1,000 people between the ages of 7 and 29 and concluded that no one side of the brain was more active than the other. That’s because both sides of the brain have to work together in order to fully understand things like sounds, movement and communication.
For example, one’s ability to respond to or create music has frequently been attributed to the right side of the brain. However, processing musical elements such as melody, pitch and tempo engages the left brain, meaning both sides must work together to process the various components of music. The same can be said for enjoying a TV show or a book— the right side is engaged with the nuance of tone, humor and intuition, while the left side is processing the meaning of words and the logistics of scenarios.
So although the two sides of your brain perform differently, they work together at the same time to complement one another.