People often talk of being ‘left brained’ (analytic) or ‘right brained’ (creative).
The left-right brain theory suggests people who are dominant in their left brain are logical and better with numbers and critical thinking, while people who favour their right brain are creative, intuitive and better with emotions, music and creativity.
While scientists agree that each side (hemisphere) of the brain performs different functions, recent research has debunked the myth that humans favour one side over the other.
Instead, it is the relationship between the two sides that makes us act the way we do.
High performing individuals are those who communicate most effectively between both hemispheres, especially during times of stress. This is called enhanced interhemispheric interaction.
For example, posthumous studies on Albert Einstein’s brain suggest his genius was attributable to strong communication between the two sides of his brain. In part this was because Einstein had a thicker corpus callosum (the ‘bridge’ between the two hemispheres) compared to most people.
But this wasn’t just all good luck or genetics on Einstein’s part – from an early age he was creative and active in science, music and bike riding. In this way, Einstein essentially ‘programmed’ his brain.
How can we be more ‘whole brained’ like Einstein?
It is possible to improve our capacity for ‘whole brain thought’ by performing activities designed to strengthen the corpus callosum such as:
- Music: musicians have been shown to use more of their brain at once when playing instruments
- Juggling: this requires you to coordinate both hands while watching the balls in the air
- Developing ambidexterity: for example, brushing your teeth with your other hand or swapping which side your computer mouse is on