The human brain is physically separated into two cerebral hemispheres. These hemispheres collaborate in cognitive functioning. For example, the brain's left side controls speech while its right side interprets language.
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Typically, people utilize both sides of their brains. However, a dominant hemisphere is evident in some behaviors. If you are mathematically inclined, your left brain is dominant. If you are right-brained, you are a creative, "big picture" visionary.
You can strengthen the weaker hemisphere of your brain with exercise.
Right and Left Brain Functions
Artists and musicians tend to utilize the right cerebrum more than non-creatives. According to Eric Chudler, Ph.D., a neuroscientist and researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle, the dominant functions of the right brain are face recognition, visual imagery, spatial abilities, and music. Analytical abilities emanate from the left cerebral hemisphere.
Right Brain Builders
The right brain is the root of emotions, intuition and visualization. You can encourage your brain to explore its creative side through activities that stimulate these processes.
Since the left hemisphere of the brain is the logical, sequential side, one way to build the right side of the brain is to perform tasks "illogically." That is, break the regular pattern to which you have become accustomed. Vary your routine by dressing with your eyes closed, driving to work via a different route or moving your mouse to the "other" side of your computer's keyboard.
The rational left brain hemisphere can stop the carefree right brain hemisphere from exploring new ideas. You can re-train your brain to think outside-the-box by using methods that enhance creativity.
Contour drawing is a simple artist's exercise that develops an individual's ability to perceive "spatial" relationships--that is, how physical objects occupy visual space.
Place an object on the table in front of you. Follow the outside edges of the object with your eyes. Using a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, draw a continuous outline of the item without looking down at your paper or lifting your pencil. As you do this, notice a strong temptation to stop and examine the drawing. That is your left brain trying to make sense of a right-brained activity.
If you enjoy the game of identifying a melody by only a few notes, it is because you are allowing your creative side to take control. Playing a musical instrument "by ear" without sheet music or composing an original tune are additional methods of right brain enhancement.
Whatever your cognitive tendency, left- or right-brained deficiencies can be corrected through brain training exercises. Achieve optimal brain fitness by building a balanced creative and analytic brain.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Kimura, D. (1996). Understanding the Human Brain, Children’s Britannica.
- University of Washington: Neuroscience for Kids: Brain Imaging
- Learning Rx: Right Brain Exercises
- Edwards, B. (1999). The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. NY: Penguin Putnam.