Our brains are amazing. Weighing only about three pounds, the human brain contains 100 billion neurons, 100 trillion connections and 100,000 miles of blood vessels–and it all fits within our small skulls. Our brains are in control of every thought we have and every move we make.
Our brain is divided into two halves called hemispheres. Each half controls certain aspects of our lives. We’ve been told we’re either right brained or left brained depending on which “half” is deemed dominant.
We’ve been taught that you’re either left brained or right brained, but what does it mean and is one side really more dominant over the other? Neuroscience says no. According to a two year study which included MRI imaging of 1000 people, the neural connections on one side of the brain are not stronger than the other. Rather, the two hemispheres are connected by a superhighway of nerve fibers that work together.
It is true that certain physical functions emanate from one side more than the other. For example, specific areas of the brain that control language are different from the areas that control physical movement. The frontal lobe controls certain personality characteristics, whereas the occipital lobe, or back of the brain, is involved with vision. However, all of these areas of the brain, along with many more, work together to make us who we are as a whole.
Different tasks require different parts of the brain and different people have different brain strengths, and our brains are constantly taking in information, processing it and problem solving. Whole brain thinking allows for us to utilize both sides of our brain to solve problems and gives us the ability to use our strengths and work with our limitations to adapt our thinking to the situation at hand. It helps us use the full spectrum of solutions to make better, more well thought out decisions.
To develop BOTH sides of your brain there are tips you can try:
- Spend time each day doing a crossword or sodoku puzzle
- Read a little every day
- Play memory games
- Start a new hobby that requires you to focus on learning it
- Take a class or attend a lecture
- Exercise – while physical exercise wouldn’t seem to affect the brain, in reality getting just 20 minutes of exercise daily improves cognition and memory.
One of the best ways to encourage whole-brained thinking is to utilize BrainTap. BrainTap’s unique technology is specifically designed to help you achieve balanced brainwave states that will have you working at peak performance.
Remember, whether you’re doing a chemistry experiment, working a difficult math problem or painting, both hemispheres of your brain are working hard for you. While we may prefer certain activities like math over English or writing over calculus, we can learn to develop both sides of our brain for whole brained thinking–making us masters at any task we set our minds to. While the theory of right brained versus left brained does align with personal aptitude, it is not scientifically proven to be true—and that’s good news for us as we can strengthen both sides.