Thursday, March 29, 2007

What are the qualities of "right brain" and "left brain"?

Who's asking: Laura Lippman, Baltimore, MD

Let me clarify: Laura did not ask me this question personally. It came up during the talk she gave last night at Politics & Prose, and she said she could never remember which was which: is left the analytical side and right the intuitive side, or vice versa?

Since I can never remember either, I looked it up as soon as I got back to Joanne's. (Yeah, it's a disorder. I make money off it. Making money off your worst personality traits is the key to a happy life. As Robertson Davies wrote, feed your bear, and your bear will feed your fire.)

The theory of Hemispheric Dominance posits that the left side of the brain controls linear thinking, logic, language, and the memory of real events, while the right side handles imagination, intuition, and the nonverbal processing of information.

It is a common misconception (i.e., something I thought) that "left brain" is math and science and "right brain" is words and music. It's more about whether you receive and process information by putting it in categories, measuring it and giving it names (left brain), or by taking it all in, letting it float around and seeing what connections arise (right brain).

Of course, all of us do both, but we all have a preference. I found an online test that scored me a 10 on the left brain and a 9 on the right brain. I'd like to believe that says I'm a well-balanced thinker, but I'm afraid what it really means is that I'm good at taking those tests.

Anyway, Laura was fascinating to hear last night, Politics & Prose is one of the great bookstores of the world, and everyone should read What the Dead Know, regardless of Hemisphere Dominance.


mike said...

At last! I have a real and valid biological excuse for not being talkative. It's because I'm left handed!

AnswerGirl said...

Yes, but you are logical and orderly otherwise, so how does that work?