There is No Such Thing As “Left-Brain” and “Right-Brain”

Let me just begin by saying that before I knew better, I often referred to the “left-brain” and the “right-brain.” When I got old enough (and studied the brain a little bit), I learned that those are just colloquial terms that referred to the functions most commonly found in the left hemisphere and the functions most commonly found in the right hemisphere. While I understand the importance of using labels to effectively communicate what could be perceived as complicated theories, I think it’s important that we don’t talk about the ‘left-brain’ and the ‘right-brain.’

The primary reason for this — there is only “one” brain, for which there are two hemispheres. When we begin to talk about the ‘left-brain’ and the ‘right-brain,’ it severs us from reality (even slightly). The secondary reason — we’re now learning a great deal about . This is the idea that — essentially — the brain can change. Through environmental, behavioral, or other changes, the actual structure of the brain can change. I recently came across a great RSA talk by on “The Divided Brain.” I’ve included a few quotes that I found worth repeating. Below, you’ll find the video embedded.

On empathy:

“If you can stand back & see that the other individual is an individual like me, who might have interests & values & feelings like mine, then you can make a bond.”

On imagination being in the right hemisphere and reason being in the left hemisphere:

“Let me make it very clear: for imagination you need both hemispheres. Let me make it very clear: for reason you need both hemispheres.”

In case you don’t watch the video the whole way through, he closes with a :

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift. The rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant, but has forgotten the gift.”


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