Left-Right Brain Balance

Left and Right Brain 

 

I’m sure most of you have heard of the Left and Right Brain right? Here’s a quick reminder:

Our brain is divided into two hemispheres, each with it’s own specialisms in thinking:

 

Left Brain Functions: speech, logic, reasoning, organization, objectivity, linear- think maths and science.

Right Brain Functions: intuition, emotion, subjectivity, creativity, insight, spatial- think art and music.

 

Are you left or right brain dominant? Take this quiz to find out!

 

UPDATE (2nd July 2012): Commenters have generally found they are fairly left-right brain-balanced using the above test, so I’ve found one that seems to be more sensitive, which you can access here via similarminds.com.

You can also try the Spinning Dancer test here via dailytelegraph.com.au.

 

Left-Right Brain Imbalance & Mental Health 

Fredric Schiffer M.D has a very interesting website detailing Dual-Brain Psychology. He has completed a number of research studies, which can be viewed on his website, theorizing that each side of our brain has a distinct personality. This has implications in treating a range of psychological disorders, including depression, anxiety and addictions. So it seems perhaps there is a case for a link between left-right brain balance and our state of emotional balance. Seems fairly logical to me! (However, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of research out there on this link at present, so the theories have not been fully supported by other’s studies that I can find on the internet. I’ll keep you posted if I find out any more.)

 

Societal Left-Brain Domination!

Our society in general has become very left-brain dominant.

Our current financial, social and environmental crises have come about through a heavy focus on materialism: money, money, money, more, more, more. Large corporations are extremely efficient at generating money, but at the expense of happiness and meaning in employees. Nobody wants to feel like a robot or a cog in a machine when at work, but that is what organisations often reduce us to.

For an individual who is more right-brain inclined (creative) but whose gifts have been repressed due to left-brain (logic) schooling and societal expectations, this kind of career is never going to make them happy. Their repressed artistic dreams will have been shoved to one side to make room for left-brained expectations. Life has less meaning.

 

Societal Discontent & Depression

I feel there is a change on the horizon, partly due to the economic crises, but also due to a growing discontent in people’s individual lives. We are becoming more dissatisfied, despondent, apathetic, even despairing of modernized living, sometimes resulting in depression and anxiety.

We may have the 42″ plasma TV, the Audi A4,  the holiday abroad every year, 2.4 children and a stable job with an insurance company, but are we happy? Some of us, maybe a lot of us, aren’t.

Just look at the enormous success of shows like American Idol and the X Factor- people want to work in areas they are passionate about, not large corporations out for their own gain.

Some of us are in the world to BE artists, poets, writers, dancers, musicians, primary-school teachers, healers, designers, psychologists, yoga instructors, chefs or inventors! There are not enough jobs in these areas, so we end up in insurance, finance or administration. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are loads of people who gain a great deal of satisfaction from this type of job, but I don’t think natural right-brainers will be scoring 100% on career satisfaction polls!

 

Children & The Right Brain

I think it is incredibly important that we rediscover our right brains. Children are so naturally joyous and are fantastic role models for adults! Do you see them playing politicians and financial advisors? They love singing, dancing, playing football, running around outside, playing imaginary games together, drama, painting, making sand castles, digging in the garden, getting muddy and messy, laughing, making tents, dressing up, and so on. They go with what makes their heart sing!  The right brain is the way to go in order for us to rediscover joy!

 

Left-Right Brain Balance and The Renaissance

One of the most famous examples of a balanced left-right brainer was Leonardo da Vinci. He demonstrated the power that brain balance can give us in our lives- the creativity and innovation, the giant leaps forward we could take as a society.

Da Vinci was exceptionally multi-talented and worked as an artist (right-brained: RB), scientist (LB), engineer (LB), mathematician (LB), inventor (RB), anatomist (LB), painter (RB), sculptor (RB), architect (RB), botanist (LB), musician (RB) and writer (RB).

The work of da Vinci formed an integral part of the European Renaissance (14th-17th Century AD)- the cultural movement widely regarded as a time of great advancement in the fields of politics, science, art and music, amongst others.

Just imagine how far the human race could advance with a better grasp of brain balance!

 

Right Brainers- Let’s redress the Balance

With such an inspirational role model as Leonardo da Vinci, maybe we can overcome an attitude of right-brained activities being feminine, airy-fairy, less productive, unrealistic etc; that it is actually important for humans to maintain brain balance for health and successful human evolution.

Right-brained activities can bring added meaning to our lives and revitalize us after a left-brained day in the office. Think drawing, painting, singing, dancing, yoga, athletics, playing a board game, swimming, sports, playing with kids/dog, writing, designing, crafting, cooking etc.

Sounds like fun to me! (Well apart from the sports blurgh!)

Right, I’m off to draw some stick people- Leonardo eat your heart out!

 

 

Resources

Is It Time To Be More Right-Brained?: Psychology Today

Balance Your Brain Hemispheres

Dual-Brain Psychology- Fredric Schiffer: Linking left-right brain psychology with psychological disorders.

Whole-Brained Thinking- Becoming Bitingual: Soaring Creativity

Renaissance: Wikipedia

Leonardo da Vinci: The Complete Works

Photo Credits: Head by freedigitalphotos.net; Pound by freedigitalphotos.net; Child by freedigitalphotos.net; Family by freedigitalphotos.net

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27 thoughts on “Left-Right Brain Balance

  1. Dorothy

    a very interesting article….I’m a right brainer, not surprisingly since I hate maths but I was surprised to see it was a 8/10 split….a typical bipolar, can’t make my mind up score I guess :D

    Reply
    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Thank you Dorothy!

      Yeah I was right brain 13, left brain 12- most people seem to be pretty even. I’m concluding either the test isn’t very sensitive, that humans in general are fairly balanced, or its a Bipolar thing! Makes sense like you say- can’t make up our minds!

      Reply
  2. Jen

    Hi, I took the quiz too, pretty even, slightly more right-dominant. I added the results widget to my sidebar, so I’m sure some of my readers may be taking the test and checking your blog too.
    Have a great day!
    x

    Reply
    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Cool, thanks Jen! :)

      Interesting results. Maybe humans are generally brain-balanced, but participate more in left-brained activities as a society? The test measures your thinking styles and inclinations, rather than what we actually participate in. Mmmmm, this is fascinating- think I might have to do some more research!!

      Hope you’re enjoying your retirement from nursing!

      You have a great day too!

      xxx

      Reply
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  4. mentalhealthtalk

    You always post the most interesting articles Rachel. Thank you. I took the quiz and got a 9/10 split, though I would consider myself to be pretty even overall (times I go more one way than another). I think this sums it up… I have a Bachelor of Mathematics degree but create opportunities to draw cartoons any chance I get. :)

    Reply
    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Thank you Trish.

      I enjoyed your video interview with Deborah the other day.

      Wow a maths degree- I’m impressed! I’m pretty even too: Diploma in Neuroscience & Psychology, but love art,music & ballet! :)

      Reply
  5. Tallulah "Lulu" Stark

    You have just sparked a theory for me.

    Now, I have taken the left / right brain test, and I got the result I was pretty sure that I would get. I am almost evenly matched between right and left brain, 12 / 11. It sounds like it’s a good thing, right? Probably wrong. Instead of creating a balance, it probably creates a conflict instead.

    My evidence of my left / right brain balance? Music is a global process in the brain. It requires the operation of both left and right brain, left being for the math, coordination, etc and right being for the creativity required. I have always leaned toward music as a natural inclination, not as a personal preference. Music isn’t something I just enjoy. It’s a second language to me. I read notation without a problem, can pick out time signatures, and build complex note structures based on that. It’s something that just happens.

    I’d like to see how many other people have an almost even split, and see exactly how that matches up with disorder.

    Reply
    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Yeah, music appreciation (of tone, melody, expression etc) is right-brained and playing music (reading notation, rhythm, theory) is left-brained. I play piano & flute- think it must be really good for our brains to be using both parts at once!

      I’m surprised there aren’t more research papers on brain laterality and psychological disorders. Would be very interesting to compare scores for depression/anxiety/bipolar sufferers with healthy people. Think there have been some links with schizophrenia, but I haven’t found anything concrete on depression & anxiety yet which surprised me.

      Reply
  6. Summer Moon

    This is an interesting post. I took both tests and the first one showed me right-brained, at Left Brain 7% and Right Brain 13%. And, the second test showed me right-brained at Right Brain 68%, Left Brain 60%. That’s pretty interesting to see. I would have thought that I would have been way more to the right for each of the tests, but instead it came out less than an 8 point difference for each test. Pretty neat to learn that. I’m interested in Lulu’s theory too, regarding how we all match up with the disorder. Thanks for posting this, Rachel. This is not only interesting, but also fun to learn.

    Reply
      1. Summer Moon

        Yeah, I’ve always been more arty and literary inclined. I got my bachelors degree in media arts design and have been writing since I was a little girl. I’ve always loved creative writing the most. I’ve never learned to play an instrument, although I’m now trying. I’m curious if I really put my mind to it, if I could do well with an instrument. I have a guitar, but don’t know how to play it yet. I’m thinking of trying the piano after all, ’cause I’ve always wanted to play that. I find it interesting how you say most of us with bipolar tend to be quite right-brained. I’ve read how bipolar and creativity often go hand-in-hand, so it’s really interesting to see people’s responses here, providing proof to what I’ve read.

  7. projectwhitespace

    I did not take the quiz, but I will when I have more time (off to work soon!). But, I just wanted to say that this article was fabulous! You are definitely a wonderful writer–I love how you put this together! I could see how you could write a whole series on this topic, even a whole website around this.
    Anyway, I’m definitely a right brainer, but I will be interested in seeing what the quizzes tell me. I like how you compare left/right brain theory to our society as a whole, and how our society is becoming left brained dominant, causing unhappiness especially in right brained people. I totally see this, and personally see this in my own life. I so want to have a full time job CREATING! Ahh . . . maybe if I keep working toward it I will reach it.

    Reply
    1. rachelmiller1511 Post author

      Of course you’ll reach it! I think if you apply yourself with enough focus and determination you can succeed at pretty much anything! And I think you do that already :) Working for myself, doing something I love, feels a million miles away at the moment, but I’m starting to believe more and more that it WILL happen. I might have to be patient, but I’m gonna get there!

      Thank you for your lovely comments about the article. I’m not always sure I’m putting my point across clearly so I’m glad you understood what I was trying to say! Once I started looking into this whole left-right brain topic I really became immersed, it was fun!

      Reply
  8. rachelmiller1511 Post author

    Summer- I’ve been finding it really interesting seeing everyone’s results too! It’s great that you’d like to learn an instrument. I’d quite like to have a go at guitar. Playing music is a great way to balance left and right brain- you need the left (logic) to read the music and learn the technicalities, and the right for music appreciation and expression. How cool is that!

    Media arts must have been an interesting degree- if you have any creations you could share on your blog it would be really cool to see them!

    Reply
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