Left brain, right brain: does it make a difference?

Left brain, right brain: does it make a difference?

Back in February I wrote a post called “The Social Introvert”¬†and was privileged enough to have a reader named Pat comment on it to recommend that I read the book “The Introvert Advantage.” I promised at the time to add it to my reading list, and I did, but I only recently got around to acquiring it from the library.

Since I am only halfway through the book at the moment I can’t comment on it as a whole, but I did come across a chapter that I found especially interesting that deals with the topic of right-brain vs left-brain dominance. Now, I have always considered myself to be quite right-brained: I think in pictures, I love being creative, and I sometimes feel things very strongly (ridiculously strongly in some cases such as when I found myself in tears over watching “Fat Albert”). So I was shocked to realize how many of the left-brained traits I also associated with. Here are the traits as listed in the book*:

Right Brained Persons Are:

  • Playful in problem solving
  • Respond to events with emotion
  • Interpret body language easily
  • Have a good sense of humor
  • Process information subjectively
  • Improvise
  • Use metaphors and analogies when describing something
  • Deal with several problems at once
  • Use hands a lot in conversation
  • Notice patterns and think in pictures
  • See solutions as approximate and evolving
  • Not realize all you know.

Left Brained Persons Are:

  • Analyze pros and cons before taking action
  • Be neat and tidy
  • Base decisions on facts, not sentimentality
  • Give concrete examples when describing something
  • Think in terms of right and wrong, good and bad
  • Process experiences objectively
  • Be keenly aware of time
  • Proceed one step at a time
  • Not pick up social cues easily
  • Like to categorize
  • Be idea-oriented
  • Be comfortable with words and numbers
  • Seek exact solutions

I was shocked at how many of the left-brained traits I not only had but was proud of. Categorizing? Yes please! Analyzing pros and cons before taking action? Sometimes to the point of absurdity! Base decisions on facts? Yes, Yes, YES! But I had to wonder why this came as such a surprise to me. Had I always been this way and just undervalued these left-brained traits because I wanted to pursue my creative interests? Had I overvalued my right-brained traits because I wanted to be an artist even though my nature was left-brained?

The book also made cursory mention of “bilateral dominance” which describes a person who uses both halves of the brain equally, but it feels a bit presumptuous to declare myself bilaterally dominant. After all, everyone wants to believe they are a unique and special snowflake. If I were to guess I would say that I am, by nature, right-brained, but the older I get the more I learn the value of left-brainedness and the more I try to incorporate it into everyday life.

So this opens up several interesting questions. If someone is born with right-brained dominance can they learn to be left-brained as well? If it is possible to train oneself to be bilaterally dominant then how does that affect ones effectiveness? Is it easier or harder to make decisions when both sides of the brain are weighing in? Is someone a more efficient worker or a less efficient worker? Does one become more articulate but lose creative range?

Then there comes the question of how our nature can change over time: many of us our born with extremely right-brained tendencies and begin learning the value of left-brained traits when we are between one and two years old. Does that stop once we finish growing up? Does our brain lock into place at a certain point forcing us to live the rest of our lives with exactly the same proportion of logic-to-creativity until we die? What if brain-dominance is determined by how much we use those particular skills- that we become more creative the more we think in pictures and we become more logical the more we think in lists?

Right-brained or Left-brained I suspect these are questions that my fellow deep thinking introverts would be able to offer some good insight on: what do you think causes right or left brain dominance? What are your experiences?

*I’m totally not plagarizing, see? Here is my source: Laney, Marti Olsen “The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive In an Extrovert World”, Workman Publishing Inc, 2002, Pages 89, 91.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 20, 2013.

2 Responses to “Brainedness”

  1. […] Brainedness: Again, if you are a regular follower of my blog you probably noticed that I haven’t written […]

  2. I can’t say I’ve cried from Fat Albert (other than the live-action movie’s ending where they visit the cemetery plot of one friend). But, I did cry from “The Little Mermaid”, “The Last Unicorn”(gosh, that was a tear fest!!), “Ice Age” (when they finally give back the baby), “Monsters, Inc.”(when they lose the ability to visit Boo’s door) and an odd anime I watched once which has given me a bad case of random cry fests from small happy achievements.

    Okay, let me go over these lists and check off the ones I share…

    Right Brain

    Playful in problem-solving…check…provided whoever I am working with is not TOO playful. I have worked with some people who can be a bit like social butterflies that talk more than they get anything done. And, if I am ever this way myself, I apologize. I can be goofy and get lost in a dream at times. But, when I am serious about getting something done, I want to be a serious team.

    You mean left brains don’t have any emotional reaction?:P I react both mentally AND emotionally. I get detailed analysis streaming through my head like a cash register receipt at the grocery store. But, I also have a natural emotional response. Whether that is anger, fear, sadness, happiness or whatever.

    I would say I am a pretty good judge of body language. But, my track record for checking hasn’t been flawless:P

    Sense of humor?…check…though that is subject to opinion/taste. I know my sense of humor is one of the few things that keeps me from suicidal thoughts.

    I don’t know what subjectively means:P…so I don’t know if I process that way. I could look up the word. I know it. I just don’t use it often. So, words like subjective and judgmental don’t get processed properly often:P

    I improvise sometimes…and sometimes I fail to improvise. I suspect I fail more than I succeed even though I have a wild imagination for thinking outside the box. I also am better at giving suggestions than taking action:P I learned to improvise from having “poor” parents who didn’t buy me all the cool toys when they were cool. I learned to use my imagination that way, too. I just never had many models to draw from…which has hampered my art/drawing development.

    Metaphors and analogies?….HUGE check:D…that is my specialty. And, it drives many people who think more precisely to the point batty:P They want my answers in black and white. I give them a rainbow of possibilities instead.

    I wouldn’t say I DEAL with several problems at once. I don’t multi-task well. However, I DO ponder several at once:P…which really slows me down. I struggle with making clear-cut decisions. However, thinking about a number of things at once does help with “big picture thinking” as it gives better perspective. I could focus on one eye…or I could see the whole face.

    I have a tendency to talk with my hands (but not as much as my fourth grade teacher did:P). It’s said to be related to my astrology. I can just as well lock myself up and fold my arms if I am in a mood.

    Patterns and pictures…check…I am an artist who casually studies astrology and dabbles in psychology. It’s what I do:P

    If seeing solutions as approximate means never absolute…and evolving means things are never concrete/certain…then, yes. And, though I struggle with putting things into permanent ink–so to speak–I do wish I could establish more concrete solutions/conclusions/successes.

    And, now, Left Brain

    I do go over pros and cons often…check. I tend to be a pessimist, though:P

    I used to be judged a “neat freak” when I was going through my teens and struggling to have some privacy/respect for who I was while trying to juggle all that was on my plate at the time. Now, I’d say I am more of a creative slob. Yet, I expect my work to be very neat and tidy:D hehe

    Facts versus sentimentality?…that one could be a gray area. I question facts given to me like reputations…and I have had moments when I get lost in sentimentality.

    I’ll let others decide if my examples of anything are concrete:P It seems my thoughts on what is concrete are not always accepted as such by others. I think we all sometimes develop concrete brains, ears or eyes that won’t let other info in.

    I do have a strong conscience that likes to think something is right or wrong. I can’t say I am a total saint, either, though. I have my indulging moments I am not proud to admit. Some say I am too hard on myself. I call it self-discipline.

    Again, I don’t have the word objectively on mental file:P So, I can’t say for sure.

    I would like to say I am keenly aware of time….I am keenly aware when time slips away from me because I indulged in something for too long:P

    I am not the best step-taker or planner. I may proceed cautiously or rush in like Hermes/Ares if I feel I have wasted too much time hesitating. I may take tiny steps when I am uncertain…or throw caution to the wind and place my money on the table when I feel I’ve wasted too much time thinking something through. It just has to get done…so I run full steam ahead…and sometimes forget a step.

    I do miss social cues when certain types of people have the same language I do not possess. The old “inside joke” routine gets me. I can remember as far back as early elementary school days when kids would stump me with their fad talk. I didn’t know the lingo and had to look the fool. The same goes for handshakes and signals many think are common knowledge. However, I have pointed things out to my family and some I meet when I DO notice them (and they fail to do so). I notice body language or gestures/vibes at times that I have to convey to someone who is missing the point. I am not always right in saying this, though:P

    I am not sure what categories I put anything in presently:P My mind is flooded with thoughts and sleepiness.

    You mean there are people who are not idea-oriented?:P How do they function? Simply following orders? Like cattle?

    What is discomfort with words/numbers?

    I guess I’d want an exact solution if I needed to be precise. Otherwise, I think I ask for input which need not be exact. But, it should be detailed enough to let me know the person is seeing what I am seeing or reading everything I wrote.

    I wonder if the people who decided what was left and what was right weren’t trying to simply drive a wedge between people like democratic politics. Why must we be left or right, red or blue? And, why is left not creative? I think creativity can come in many forms. I know people who are artists with numbers and tools I find annoying. They take the pleasure out of art. But, then, so do I sometimes when I worry or analyze too much:P Yet, those “number artists” can create some impressive works. It’s like comparing an architect/draftsman to a criminal profile artist.

    I do think a person who is one side versus the other has an easier time functioning in life. I think that is why I am feeling bogged down or as if i am spinning my wheels too much. I hate when people tell me I think too much. That doesn’t help. But, I suspect–even though it may seem limiting in possibility thinking–being one-sided allows for more productivity in that one side’s range of activity. That person needs to accept one or more with the other side of the brain working for them into their life to achieve both sets of tasks.

    As for changing with age, I’d look into astrology. There is mention of sun, moon and rising signs. The sun is how you are naturally/born. The moon is how you “mature”. And, the rising is a bit of destiny mixed in with appearances. The rising sign–to me–is like a combination of expectation, a parallel/second life and how others see us. I recall reading in one of my books about how people have different clocks for transitioning between their sun and moon phases. Some remain like children a long time before adopting their moon sides. Others are forced to grow up fast and swiftly shed their sun sides. The latter are typically the ones to dismiss astrology as valid because they read a horoscope set to their sun sign and think it’s completely bogus.

    Pardon my lengthy/detailed reply:)

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