If you’ve taken psychology in college, you’ve been sold on the idea that you are either right-brained or left-brained. The study said that if you were right-brained, you would be more in-touch with your creative side. Meanwhile left-brained people were more logical. This theory is widely used in so many applications, in books, to job applications, to apps.
Too bad it’s not true. A study published last month in the journal Plos One scanned the brains of over a thousand people between ages 7 to 29, while they were lying down and reading, measuring the specific mental processes taking place on either and both sides of the brain. There was no evidence found that the participants had a stronger left or right-sided network in their brains.
It’s completely true that some brain functions occur in one or the other side of the brain – language tends to be on the left, attention more on the right – but the brain isn’t as black and white as the myth claims it is. For example, the right side of the brain may also contain processing elements for language. Similarly, the left side may also involve attention.
Jeff Anderson, Professor of Neuroradiology
University of Utah
The myth probably took root way back in the 19th century when scientists first discovered that an injury to one side of the brain resulted in a loss of set of abilities. The concept probably gained popularity after that in the late 20th century when research done by Nobel-prize-winning neuropsychologists conducted studies with patients who have undergone having their left and right brain hemispheres separated. They discovered that when the two sides of the brain could not work together, they responded differently to stimuli.
This theory was taken a step further when psychology enthusiasts took it one step further and associated personality types to brain hemispheres.
The neuroscience community has never accepted the theory of a “left-dominant” or “right-dominant” personality types. Lesion studies don’t support it, and in reality, it would just be highly inefficient for one half of the brain to consistently be more active than the other, added Anderson.
However, despite the efforts of those like Anderson, to disprove left/right personality types, the idea isn’t going to away anytime soon. A lot of principles in society are built upon the principle and its generalizations. There’s also that satisfying feeling you get when you can easily label yourself as either logical or creative, two ends of a spectrum.
Whether or not this research proves significant in the facing out of the left/right-side dominance theory, though, remains to be seen. It’s good to know, however, that the few that do know, know better.