It’s an indisputable fact that the brain is divided into the left and right hemispheres. What’s not so cut-in-stone is whether or not an individual can be defined as being largely left- or right-brained.
Popular belief holds that anyone with a head for numbers, facts, and logistics is left-brained, while the artists, writers, daydreamers, and creative folks of the world are right-brained. However, the fact is that your two different hemispheres work pretty equally most of the time, and you don’t use one or the other side “more” based on your personality. The biggest challenge to the idea of a dominant hemisphere is a purely logical one: there’s no reason for one side of your brain to work better than the other. It would be a waste of space, weight, and potential, and we’ve evolved to make the most out of everything, including our brains.
So why does the myth persist over the years if neurologists have counted it out? It first emerged in the public consciousness as a result of studies by Roger Sperry, who was researching epilepsy when he made the discovery that if you separate the two hemispheres by cutting the corpus callosum, you can effectively reduce seizures. Unfortunately, it had some side effects, including bizarre, out-of-character behaviors. Sperry assumed from these findings that the brain was divided because each side was responsible for different tasks and processes, which diverged from the prevailing belief that only the left side of the brain did anything and that the right side was useless. Sperry was careful to warn readers that his research was experimental and theoretical, not factual. In true form, the media and news celebrated the findings as factual evidence that both hemispheres work independently of each other.
But it’s simple not true. Regardless of your ability to paint a beautiful picture or do complicated equations, you are always using your whole brain all the time. Brain activity between the hemispheres is rarely lopsided. Your right brain does not “outperform” your left brain, or vice versa; in fact, they need each other in order for either to work at all.
Interestingly, even the common myth that the left hemisphere is more responsible for logical processes and the right hemisphere is more responsible for artistic processes is pretty fraudulent. In fact, both sides of your brain are equally important in terms of most thought; for example, with math, you need your left hemisphere for counting and your right hemisphere for estimating. Similarly, your left hemisphere helps you understand the way language is used in terms of syntax and the right hemisphere helps you understand social cues and speech patterns. Having one or the other wouldn’t get you nearly as far as having both working at full capacity.
However, there is some evidence that our hemispheres can say something about us: studies show that creative people tend to use both their hemispheres at a more equal rate than non-creative people, which probably helps with problem-solved and understanding complex situations.