Left-brain-right-brain: Time to get a new theory

You probably run into the left-brain-right-brain theory of behavior a lot, as I do. It’s undoubtedly a popular way to explain why people are different.

The left side of the brain is the analytical side; the right is the creative side. Or maybe I have that backward. Anyway, one side is supposed to be dominant, and that determines how we see the world and how we behave.

The problem with that neat little concept is that it’s nonsense.

The brain and its functions are far too complex to be explained by this simplistic formulation. As Stephen M. Kosslyn, Ph.D., (psychologist and neuroscientist) and G. Wayne Miller (author) write in this Psychology Today article:

Neuroscientists have known for a long time that research does not support such sweeping claims about how people differ in their left and right sides, or hemispheres. The functions of the hemispheres are in fact different, but these differences aren’t what the popular culture holds to be true — the differences lie in how each side processes very specific kinds of information. Example: The left hemisphere processes details of visible objects whereas the right processes overall shape. The left hemisphere plays a major role in grammar and decoding literal meaning whereas the right plays a role in understanding verbal metaphors and decoding indirect or implied meaning. And so forth. Hardly the sort of stuff that can guide your life! Source: Left Brain, Right Brain? Wrong | Psychology Today

Read the whole article, or maybe this one: The Truth About Being Left-Brained or Right-Brained.

If you’re subscribing to this theory, it’s time to get a new one.

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About Jim Stovall

Jim Stovall, a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker and beekeeper -- among others things.

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