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Are you left-brained or right-brained? Neither

New research debunks myth of left- and right-brained personalities.

By Sally Wadyka Aug 15, 2013 9:30PM
I’m a writer by trade, and I like to fancy myself a creative thinker who’s thoughtful and intuitive. And as my husband would be quick to point out, logically working through details and carefully analyzing situations are not my strengths. In other words, I’m a classic “right-brain” personality. Or so I’ve always thought.

But now comes news that this whole notion of “left-brain” and “right-brain” thinking may be just a convenient personality-typing myth. Researchers at the University of Utah recently completed a two-year study that used brain imaging to determine if this brain-split theory held any truth.

And it looks like, according to their findings, it really doesn’t. The researchers analyzed brain scans of 1,011 people between the ages of seven and 29, looking at how they used the right and left hemispheres of their brains. It’s true that certain functions are specialized to one side or the other. But the researchers found no evidence that any of the subjects preferentially used their left- or right-brain networks more often.

In this complex study, the researchers broke up the brain into 7,000 different regions, and used MRI imaging to look at which regions were more lateralized (in other words, which ones related to brain functions that were more specific to either the right or left hemispheres). Then they analyzed the number of connections in each brain region that was left- or right-lateralized. And while they found differences in the patterns of connections between the subjects, there was nothing to suggest that one side or the other was truly busier.

“We just don’t see patterns where the whole left-brain network is more connected or the whole right-brain network is more connected in some people,” concluded the study’s lead author, Jeff Anderson, MD, PhD. “It may be that personality types have nothing to do with one hemisphere being more active, stronger or more connected.”

Thanks, science. There goes my excuse for not being more analytical, objective and logical.

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Aug 20, 2013 8:48PM

I am thrilled to see that the basis of my Master's thesis has now found solid scientific evidence. I have long been saddened by the seeming disappearance of the Renaissance man/woman. Just as I have never understood the gender specific assignation of talents. Nonsense! Rot! Malarkey!

There is no reason at all why males are better at science than females. Unless you want to blame the pink-blue division of Toys R Us, and I do. If only as a microcosm of society. When I went back to college in middle-age all the science majors insisted they couldn't write and the humanity majors got a deer in headlights look when the word science was mentioned.

The problem isn't lack of ability but societal brain washing. All of us can learn to do whatever we need to provided we apply ourselves.

Oh...my thesis? The Modern Theories of Aging as Observed in Literature over the Millennia.

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