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Brain Hemispheric Preference

The human brain is divided into two hemispheres–left and right. Scientists continue to explore how some cognitive functions tend to be dominated by one side or the other, that is, how they are lateralized.

Are you more right brained or left brained? We know that the cerebral cortex is the part of the brain that houses rational functions. It is divided into two hemispheres connected by a thick band of nerve fibers (the corpus callosum) which sends messages back and forth between the hemispheres. And while brain research confirms that both sides of the brain are involved in nearly every human activity, we do know that the left side of the brain is the seat of language and processes in a logical and sequential order. The right side is more visual and processes intuitively, holistically, and randomly. Most people seem to have a dominant side. A key word is that our dominance is a preference, not an absolute. It seems that our brain goes on autopilot to the preferred side. And while nothing is entirely isolated on one side of the brain or the other, the characteristics commonly attributed to each side of the brain serve as an appropriate guide. It is not so much that we are biologically right-brain or left-brain dominant, but that we are more comfortable with the characteristics of one over the other.

The old admonishment to know thyself certainly applies to knowing how you think. Often, we are unaware or uncritical of the thinking processes we routinely use to process information and make decisions. We have developed comfortable patterns of thinking that are reinforced in the neural networks of our brains. It is vital to recognize our thinking patterns and be cognizant of these patterns’ strengths and weaknesses in dealing with information. If you are a right-brain dominant, you must recognize the usefulness of left-brain thinking and appreciate the need to pause and pay attention to planning and organizing data and systems. If you are a left-brain dominant, you must allow right-brain input into your methodical approach.

Let's begin with a few basics. First, no one is totally left-brained or totally right-brained. Just as you have a dominant hand, dominant eye, and even a dominant foot, you probably have a dominant side of the brain. Second, you can and must develop both sides of your brain. Most individuals have a distinct preference for one of these styles of thinking. Some, however, are more whole-brained and equally adept at both modes.

Take a look at the characteristics chart below. Do you see yourself as left-brain dominant, right-brain dominant, or balanced? Here is a quiz (brain dominance test) you can take to help you find out.

Right Brain and Left Brain Characteristics

Left Hemisphere Style Right Hemisphere Style
Rational
  • Responds to verbal instructions
  • Problem solves by logically and sequentially looking at the parts of things
  • Looks at differences
  • Is planned and structured
  • Prefers established, certain information
  • Prefers talking and writing
  • Prefers multiple choice tests
  • Controls feelings
  • Prefers ranked authority structures
Intuitive
  • Responds to demonstrated instructions
  • Problem solves with hunches, looking for patterns and configurations
  • Looks at similarities
  • Is fluid and spontaneous
  • Prefers elusive, uncertain information
  • Prefers drawing and manipulating objects
  • Prefers open ended questions
  • Free with feelings
  • Prefers collegial authority structures
Sequential
  • Is a splitter: distinction important
  • Is logical, sees cause and effect
Simultaneous
  • Is a lumper: connectedness important
  • Is analogic, sees correspondences, resemblances
Draws on previously accumulated, organized information Draws on unbounded qualitative patterns that are not organized into sequences, but that cluster around images

 

Did you take the quiz? Whichever number is significantly higher represents your brain dominance preference. If the numbers are close, that means you use both sides of your brain equally. Congratulations! A balanced score means you are able to draw on the strengths of both the right and left hemispheres of your brain, depending upon a given situation. This "whole-brain" profile suggests that you are a creative and flexible thinker.

More Info:

Brain Dominance Information
Are you a Right-Brain or Left-Brain Thinker?
The Big Similarities & Quirky Differences Between Our Left and Right Brains
The Split Brain Revisited