There’s a lot of pop psychology floating around claiming we’re two types of people in this world: left brain or right brain. According to theories of lateralization and functional specialization, we’re neither one nor the other, but rather a combination of both hemispheres working together, each with its own specialization (kind of like The Olsen twins).
When you really use your brain and think about it, your brain is basically your soul. It controls everything from emotions to higher cognitive functioning to reasoning to living. Making claims we’re either right-brained or left-brained can be a little bold, especially when there are so many systems at play.
Theories of handedness and asymmetry aside, we do know each side of the brain is responsible for its own specific functions. For example, your language capabilities lie more largely in the left hemisphere, but you can blame the right side for the fact that you cry easily at movies.
Some scientists believe there is a “dominance” between the two, meaning a person has a stronger or more well-connected hemisphere as compared to the other (like how your left thigh is oddly better in your “Buns ’n’ Tums” class).
Others believe left- or right-handedness plays an important role in determining which hemisphere certain brain systems lies.
Though they have separate functions, it is the two hemispheres working in harmony that make us the well-rounded individuals we are. Being a snide assh*le, for example, and being really good at getting that message across, is a product of both.
Next time you show poor judgment by sharing drinks with the sick kid, blame it on your right brain. Here’s what your right or left brain say about you:
You have a talented hand at the jazz flute: Right Brain
People compliment your taste in music and you’ve been known to dabble in guitar, piano or whatever instrument you have tucked away in your apartment.
You can largely thank your right brain for taking charge of your musical capabilities. That emotional component we feel at the end of “Titanic” when the symphony builds is our brain responding to the symphony and decoding the appropriate response.
Your have a gifted way with words: Left Brain (...and a little right)
The left side of your brain is largely responsible for language; two of the biggest centers for language-processing are located on the left side in the majority of people.
The left hemisphere helps you produce words and also understand what these words mean. If interpreting poetry is your thing, you can give your left brain a nice hug and a Robert Frost anthology for Christmas next year. Comprehending what is being communicated is a job for the left side.
The right hemisphere doesn’t take a nap whenever language is involved, though. It deciphers the voice and tone behind words and statements.
Knowing the subtle difference between calling someone a “c*nt” and a “twat,” for example, is an area in which your right hemisphere is especially well-trained. The right side is highly specialized in the emotional components of words.
You have superb interior design skills: Right brain
Your right hemisphere specializes in visual-spatial skills and depth perceptions. If you’re really bad at judging if you can jay walk, despite traffic in the distance, you probably exhibit weaker activity in your right hemisphere.
Your inability to draw well and compromised fine arts talents that never earned you gold stars, even in your elementary classes, are largely due to a deficit in the right hemisphere. It’s all good though, you can pay someone to get your house in Architectural Digest.
You are kind of ADD sometimes: Right Brain
The right parietal lobe is largely responsible for directing your attention to certain tasks. The ability to focus on the assignment at hand requires more brain capacity than we give ourselves credit for.
Next time you’re able to sit-through a two-hour exam or fitness class or board meeting, forget thanking your pharmacist, thank your right brain that’s still in its right mind!
You have aggressive tendencies: A little bit of both
While some literature suggests the fallout after behaving aggressively fits in the left brain’s domain, scientists believe aggression is located in the frontal lobe (which is why traumatic brain injury to the frontal lobe can result in heightened aggression).
Keeping that tenacious disposition -- aka “your crazy” -- in check is a complicated system located in this frontal lobe. Controlling your behaviors is a job largely taken care of by your frontal cortex.
So you can thank it next time you refrain from trashing your ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend's Facebook wall. Be careful where you lay your head to rest at night, because if you bang up the front, you might really wake up on the wrong side of the bed.