Are you more left or right-brained? You’ve heard the question, and you probably have a pre-formulated answer to it, knowing yourself so well. Right? Or was that left? This one idea – of right brained people being more creative and left-brained people more logical – has shaped our culture and our language for a while. However, scientists have recently disproved the theory of the right and left brain personality in a new study.
Before you let your sense of self get in a ruffle, don’t worry! Scientists who ran the study still encourage people to use the formally popularized philosophy if it helps one gain a greater sense of self, there is just apparently no science behind it. After taking brain scans of 1,011 people between the ages of seven and 29, they studied lateralization of the brain and found no individuals utilizing their either hemisphere dominantly over the other. Lateralization points to certain brain processes being localized in one half of the brain or the other, and though language does stem from the left hemisphere and attention from the right, “people don’t tend to have a stronger left- or right-sided brain network.”
Participants for the study were placed in a brain scan for 5-10 minutes while in a resting state in order to gain the data. After looking at the scans, scientists divided the brain into roughly 7,ooo areas for study in order to determine whether activity was dominant in one half of the brain or the other. In those who showed strong connections in either one hemisphere or the other, research student Jared Nielsen says “it relates to other strongly lateralized connection only if both sets of connections have a brain region in common.”
So, what of the yogic age-old wisdom which refers to left and right brain usage in its description of energy passageways and mental behavior? According to yoga and tantra, which is where the western belief in personality types may have originated, the dominant traits being expressed correlates more with the psychic passageway and breathing channel open and flowing than with the hemisphere of the brain, per say. Brain hemisphere dominance has been linked with prevalent nostril breathing. Usually, if the right nostril is freely flowing and open, this means the left brain is active – or what have been termed male-dominant attitudes such as logic, reason, order and activity. The opposite true with the left nostril active.
Perhaps this study points us back to the yogic origin of understanding. That it is not in fact our brains, active on one side or the other, dictating our minds and behavior, but rather the way the breath and life force energy is entering the body. An interesting notion to consider. For, if it were the pranic (life force) energy responsible for our being more creative or more logical at any given time and not the areas of the brain turned on, this would free us up to a non-determinance on the body in order to access these qualities, but rather – an awareness of our energetic enlivenment.
As science continues to prove and disprove theories such as right and left-brain personality dominance, we are presented with the opportunity to go beyond science, into the realm of inner discovery and self-accessible wisdom, available at anytime. Isn’t it a relief to know that you aren’t wired to just behave from a creative mind or a logical one only? We all have equal access to all qualities of humanness and it is up to us to find, discover, polish and enjoy these areas to our liking. In a balanced person, both aspects of intuition and reason can work together for the enhancement of any life experience.
Written by: Stasia Bliss
Image copyright Mercedes