By Ethan Bauer
In the middle of your head is a band of nerve tissue that functions like the Panama Canal. This tissue, called the corpus callosum, connects the two hemispheres of your brain and allows them to work together. That’s where the analogy to the Panama Canal ends, though, because unlike the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, there’s no longer way around for neurological signals. If the corpus callosum is severed, there’s no more communication between the left and right brain. Period.
That’s not necessarily a detrimental thing, and people who have the nerves snipped (usually to reduce severe seizures) tend to be fairly normal. However, the lack of communication does reveal how the two halves of the brain, though they may look the same, perform very different functions.
The left side is known more as the “logical” side. It handles things like language, math and facts. Basically, processes that involve memorization or follow some sort of rules or patterns take place there. So next time you’re belting out your favorite song in the car, you can thank the left hemisphere of your brain for remembering the lyrics.
The right side is more of the “creative” side. It’s where those patterns, words and memories are given meaning. Think imagination, art and emotion. When you’re belting out that song, for example, notice how the beat flows so perfectly with the words (hopefully). Your comprehension of that flow and the artist’s ability to match it with the words can be attributed to the brain’s right hemisphere.
These different functions have given rise to the idea that someone can be “left-brained” or “right-brained.” The determination tends to be based on a person’s habits. If someone is orderly and linear, that person is left-brain dominant. If someone is original and prefers free-wheelin’, that person is right-brain dominant.
However, it’s important to note that one could not exist without the other. So-called right-brained people could not assign meaning to anything if they couldn’t comprehend things appropriately in the first place. Likewise, so-called left-brained people couldn’t interpret patterns correctly if they had no concept of a pattern’s overarching meaning.
Nevertheless, some people lean toward creativity while others creep toward logic. Now, that doesn’t mean people lack creativity or logic if they tend to favor one over the other, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they use one half of their brain “more” than the other one. What it does mean is that everyone is wired differently, and the idea of identifying with one half of the brain based on that wiring is appealing. Take our quiz on the right to help determine which half of your brain you might more strongly identify with!