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Lateralization [lat′əral′īzā′shən] is defined as the tendency for certain processes to be more highly developed on one side of the brain than the other, such as development of spatial and musical thoughts in the right hemisphere and verbal and logical processes in the left hemisphere in most persons.

I came across an article with a really interesting animated .gif that supposedly can show you your hemispheric dominance.  It also breaks down what functions of each side of your brain.

Around the office, some people saw it going clock-wise and others saw it going counter clockwise.  One of my coworkers said it was going both directions?  I can’t see it going any other direction but clockwise. Weird.

The Right Brain vs Left Brain | thetelegraph.com.au

Here is a review of some of the processes of each hemisphere:

Left Brain Functions

  • Analytic Though
  • Logic
  • Language
  • Science & Math
  • Rationality
  • Objectivity
  • Reality-based
  • Small Picture (Details)
  • IQ
  • Processing Information
  • Conscious Actions

Right Brain Functions

  • Thought
  • Intuition
  • Creativity
  • Art & Music
  • Risk-taking
  • Impetuous
  • Fantasy-based
  • Big Picture
  • Large Motor Control
  • Sense of Taste/Smell
  • Social Skills
  • Spatial Awareness

I usually hate surveys, but I thought this one was pretty interesting. I found this on the Art Institute of Vancouver’s website.  Not only does it attempt to figure out your hemispheric dominance, it also gives pretty telling descriptions of your strengths and weaknesses.  I recommend you try this for yourself, that way you can figure out if you are more of a “right-brained” or “left-brained” person.

Right Brain vs Left Brain Creativity Test at The Art Institute of Vancouver

Why is this important?

“Synaptic Pruning”  As we gain new experiences, some connections are strengthened in our brain, while others are eliminated.  Neurons that are used frequently develop stronger connections and those that are rarely used eventually perish.  This may be the cause of our hemispheric imbalance.  ”The mental patterns that get the most attention get stronger and more persistent.  As you get older they become more ingrained, habitual, and fixed, and you become more and more of the same…  Craig Ramey of the University of Alabama states that the brain and education are synonymous.  Children acquire new skills by rehearsing again and again until they do it automatically.  We need to practice regularly, or else we lose them.”

With proper practice and exercise, we can rebuild all those neurons that we lost as we became more comfortable in our everyday way of thinking. This process of regrowing our brain is referred to as brain plasticity. “Brain plasticity refers to the capacity of the nervous system to change its structure and, its function over a lifetime, in reaction to environmental diversity.”

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So if the Art Institute of Vancouver’s Creativity Test, shows a stark imbalance between your right and left brain, then you might want to think about getting a membership at your local brain gym for a mental workout (if they even exist yet).  Maybe you could research some acivities that exercise certain parts of your brain!  I recommend Betty Edwards, “The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.” This book contains a bunch of different activities that will help you exercise your right hemisphere. Some activities include drawing an upside-down image and drawing without looking at your paper.  The book does a great job explaining how exactly these activities are stimulating your mind.  Maybe with some practice, you can achieve a 50/50 balance between your right and left brain; therefore, you will be equally logical and equally creative. Or maybe, if you are daring enough, you could focus on exercising one hemisphere of your brain.  You could be like one of those guys at the gym with the huge arms and upper-body, but with really skinny, weak legs.  It’s all up to you.

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    One Comment

    1. I’m usually skeptical about reports on brain lateralization because it’s not deterministic. “Right-brained” people can have exceptional skill at “left-brained” activities. I think most people recognize that; the brain, as you rightly point out, is remarkably malleable, able to reorganize to meet new cognitive loads. I don’t put much faith in the idea that people should try to evenly split their actions so that they balance the halves of their brains. My admittedly amateur position holds that lateralization has different meaning.

      As far as I know, “Left- or right-brainedness” only describes where a cognitive function presents itself in the brain. The skills that tend to appear in certain places are not bounded things; every level of skill lies on a gradient of least to most adept. That you’re not good at math doesn’t mean that your brain is out of balance. It means that you need to practice math more. And that’s the inspiring thing about brain plasticity. You can gain skills that you never thought you could have without juggling mental calisthenics in the name of balance.

      Thanks for posting this! Brain plasticity is incredibly interesting. There’s a great (and definitely opinionated) book that has a good chapter on it; it’s The Accidental Mind by David Linden: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0674024788