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Kendra Cherry

Right Brain vs. Left Brain

By July 17, 2009

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From self-help books to popular television shows, you've probably at least heard of right brain vs. left brain dominance. According to this theory, each side of the brain controls different types of thinking. Additionally, people are said to prefer one type of thinking over the other. A person who is "left-brained" is said to be more logical, analytical and objective, while a person who is "right-brained" is said to be more intuitive, thoughtful and subjective.

The right brain-left brain theory grew out of the work of Roger W. Sperry, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1981. Later research has shown that the brain is not nearly as dichotomous as once thought. For example, recent research has shown that abilities in subjects such as math are actually strongest when both halves of the brain work together.

While often overgeneralized and overstated by popular psychology and self-help texts, understanding your typical behavior can help you develop better ways to learn and study. For example, students who have a difficult time following verbal instructions (often cited as a right-brain characteristic) can benefit from writing down directions and developing better organizational skills.

About.com's Guide to Homework Help, Grace Fleming, has created a fun quiz to help you determine your "brain type" and improve your study habits and academic skills. Take the right brain-left brain quiz to learn more.


July 17, 2009 at 4:56 pm
(1) Denise Donatien-Coder says:

The term “right brain/ left brain” should be discarded, as it implies that there are two brains, which is incorrect. “Hemispheric dominance” is more apropos.

June 3, 2012 at 9:27 am
(2) Dr. Peppers says:

@Denise Donatien-Coder. I disagree. I believe the implication is there are two hemispheres to the human brain. Although the term may be informal or unprofessional, I do not think any prudent person would think it implies humans have two brains.

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