Riva Capellari

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Located in Brookside in the heart of Kansas City

The Split Brain

How many times have you heard someone confess they are right (creative) or left (logical)“brained”? Maybe you have categorized yourself as either/or. But does this notion of using one side of your brain more than the other actually hold up under scientific scrutiny?

According to Dr. Federmeier, a psychology professor with the neurosciences program at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,  “it takes two hemispheres to be logical – or to be creative”.

While it is true that certain brain processes occur largely in one hemisphere, and each side of our brain works semi-independently, sometimes approaching the same problem differently, we use both sides almost all the time – similar to a good partnership where there is a division of labor, each person doing what they do best, but working as a team on the finished product.

For example, language is primarily a left brain activity, but recent research discovered that the right hemisphere helps process imagery associated with a word, making language not just a mechanical communication tool, but an expressive one as well.  This part of the brain also handles speech intonation and emphasis. All these right brain language tasks are paramount in singing connecting the functional (singing in tune) with the emotional interpretation of the text.

The brain is malleable. It can form new connections and reorganize itself, allowing us to learn, modify and change. As we age, functional patterns become more bilateral possibly because we have learned how to more readily coordinate our logical with our creative thoughts or is it because we are  compensating for brain function decline?

Whether or not one believes in the “split brain” (more a psychological term rather than a scientific concept), ultimately the mechanical element of our brain is only part of the cognitive process. How we learn, interpret, create and communicate is also part of the brain’s dynamically configured networks.

Jeff Anderson from the University of Utah states: “the truth is …it would be highly inefficient for one half of the brain to be consistently more active than the other”.

So before claiming your favorite brain hemisphere, remember that defaulting to an either/or position to excuse your mathematical inabilities or protest your inartistic nature, may result in a self-fulfilling prophecy!

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