Meeting of the Minds

Understanding the Right and Left Brain

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By Audrey Sellers

Can people really be right-brained or left-brained? Maybe you’ve taken an online test to determine your dominant side. Those tests may be fun, but they’re not factual. Science says it’s a myth for people to be right-brained or left-brained, and brain-imaging technology hasn’t found any evidence of right or left-brain dominance. 

However, science does show that the right and left sides of the brain specialize in different tasks. The left side of the brain helps you understand things like language and math, while the right side of the brain is responsible for things like memory and attention. People who are considered left-brain thinkers may be more analytical and objective, while right-brain thinkers are usually more creative and artistic. 

Understanding how the right and left sides of the brain work together can help you play to your strengths and improve your learning. The human brain isn’t fully formed until around age 25 (as parents well know), and its storage capacity is virtually unlimited. So, whether you want to go after a personal or professional goal or help your kids reach their full potential, knowing how the brain works can help you learn faster and remember more. 

Here, we share a few ways to tap into both the right and left sides of the brain to boost your brainpower. 

Awakening the Brain’s Left Side

Training the left side of your brain may feel like you’re back in school. That’s because activities like reading, writing, and solving puzzles awaken the brain’s more logical left side. To improve your brain’s left-side functioning, try learning a new language. Neuroscientists at Iowa State University found that learning a new language causes extensive neuroplasticity in the brain. (Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to rewire itself and form new neural connections.) When you learn a new language, you help rearrange your brain and develop new pathways. Some other ideas to exercise your brain’s left side include playing board games, tackling sudoku puzzles, and spending time every day reading or writing.  

Maximizing the Right Side of the Brain

You can stimulate the brain’s right side by seeking creative pursuits. Try activities like gardening, painting, or knitting. Some other ideas include singing or learning to play a new instrument. Science has shown that musical training can positively improve the brain’s structure and function. It can also lead to better brain development for people who start at a young age. A University of Montreal study revealed that musicians tend to be more mentally alert. Whether you strum a guitar or sit down at the piano, you’ll be doing your brain good. 

Achieving Your Best Brain

According to Healthline, the human brain begins to lose some memory abilities and cognitive skills by the late 20s. Just like you can train your body to get physically fit, you can also train your brain and enhance how it functions. Try these tips to keep your brain in tiptop shape:

Stay hydrated. The brain is 70% water. When you’re dehydrated, the brain isn’t working optimally. Drink half an ounce to an ounce of water for every pound you weigh. 

Get enough sleep. Aim for six to eight hours of shuteye a night. Making sure you log plenty of zzzs can improve your cognitive performance, creativity, and mood. 

Nosh on brain food. Research has shown that foods such as broccoli, blueberries, fatty fish, and nuts can positively impact brain function. Dark chocolate and coffee can also promote brain health.  

All Together Now

Whether you’re performing a creative or logical task, the two sides of your brain are always working together. In fact, neuroscientists have found that the brain works best when both sides are engaged at the same time. So, instead of labeling yourself as a right-brainer or left-brainer, know that the whole brain works as one, and you have the power to make it stronger. 

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