Use Both Sides of Your Brain

Check out the video of research on a man with two brains! Watch what two brains can teach you to use yours more effectively.

What happens on your left brain is not the same as activity on your right brain.

Harvard trained brain scientist,  Jill Bolte Taylor taught how brains function on both sides as she suffered a massive stroke that shut down her brain’s left side.

The idea is  to engage both sides of the brain, to increase innovation. New research shows how the brain’s plasticity rewires itself on both sides. One girl without the right side of her brain, for instance recovered near perfect vision. In spite of the fact that right brains map the left field of vision.

Sadly, secondary schools,  universities and business workplaces tend to favor left brain tasks only, and downplay operations on the right side.  Those who capitalize on brainpower tend to process more facts for innovation. Information processing in successful businesses is transforming our use of both sides of the brain. How so?

The left brain is logical, sequential, objective, rational, detail oriented, analytical and fact oriented.  It includes visual perception, language, attention, memory, focus, and speed for completing tasks. The left brain is used more for math and science, where you memorize names, and learn dates or formulas. It’s reality based, safer, and easier to assess. It cannot help you to create new approaches or problem solve your way past financial challenges though.  Those mind-bending functions lie within your right brain.

The right brain is innovative, whole picture oriented, subjective, holistic, intuitive, synthesizing, and emotionally alert.  It includes general well-being, stress management, problem solving, spatial reasoning, integration of ideas, multiple intelligence use, and ability to collaborate, and to be thankful. Imagination rules in the right brain, as do beliefs, using symbols or icons,  and taking risks for renewed possibilities.

Your right and left brain together draw on your multiple intelligences, and these are ratcheted up a notch each time used. Can you see why the notion of fixed IQ is myth?

To use and develop both sides of your brain is to maintain neuron pathways to healthy intelligence.  Have you seen it happen?

24 Comments

  1. I seem to test out as using both- although the right brain can dominate. When under stress I can go into right brain overwhelm which can be addressed by making a list and prioritizing action steps. The times when stress shows up as the left brain activity of running lists of endless negative consequences-dancing, humming, listening to music can help me to shift.

    I learned this approach from a Brain Gym practitioner – the thing is to be conscious enough to use these techniques.

  2. eweber says:

    Thanks for the insights Sandy, it’s true that most people favor one side and all can learn to use more of both.

    Music is one way to learn to shift:-) and any task that uses an operation on either side of the brain grows new dendrite connections for a stronger intelligence in that side. That’s why doing is so critical – since the doing is what rewires the human brain in healthy ways.

  3. Ellen, loved this post. Is it safe to say that since I coach leaders in the “art” of relationships, that I am helping them to develop their right brain? Interesting that the vast majority of my clients are senior leaders in technical organizations who were promoted due to technical ability, but seem to get stuck on the people side of things.

  4. Ellen Weber says:

    Thanks Mary Jo, what a great question! Both sides of the brain are used in remarkable arts and science ways to build better relations. Here are topics I have written on in that line:

    Rt side of brain based relationship building would include: 1). Questioning people rather than telling them, 2). Helping them to identify and use the multiple intelligences, 3). Assessing people’s strengths and identifying weaker areas, 4). Seeing beauty in oneself and others; resolving conflicts, 5). Renewing and leading renewal daily for healthier interactions, 6). Naming broken systems and identifying how to mend relationships to rebuild, 7). Developing common sense strategies from intrapersonal intelligence, 8). Tactics for practicing peace at work, 9). Engaging and learning from opposing views, 9). Taming the amygdala, 10). Growing inclusion, 11). Reflecting to grow personally and to enjoy others more, rewiring brain against ruts, 12). Working against stress that breaks down relationships, 13). Imagining the benefits of social justice, 14). Facilitate so that people speak and feel heard

    Left side of brain based relationship building would include: 1. ). Communicating without jargon; 2). Teaching people brain facts that strengthen relationships, 3). Reading research about some area of improvement, 4). naming brain chemicals that work for and against relationships, 5). avoiding meta-messages in language, 6). Organizing time in calendar to meet with people on regular basis, 7). Learning the cues from good tone skills, 8). Memorizing ways the brain can change and break bad habits, 9). analyzing racist problems accurately with solutions in mind, 10). Writing or speaking thanks and sincere apologies, 11). Listing smart skills to use and develop, 12. Sequencing steps and identifying tools needed to heal a toxic workplace, 13). Debate logical reasons why more brainpower comes from fostering diversity and learning from differences, 14). Organizing meetings so that others have many opportunities to speak and feel heard.

    You can likely think of even better examples – but those we use here at MITA come to mind. Thoughts?

  5. Wally Bock says:

    Great post, Ellen and a great comment added just above. You mention the left brain as the part used for math and science, but the best science and creative math tend to use both halves of the brain. The best math and science are advanced forms of problem solving. They are creative and testing by turns.

  6. eweber says:

    Wally – you always nudge discussions into far deeper and more delightful waters!

    Yes, I so agree with you. Thanks! Of the 8 unique intelligences, each one of these can be operated at the peaks of creativity — and that creativity will likely integrate both sides of the human brain.

    Isn’t it a pleasure to have a brain so complex that it takes a deep discussion among many thinking people to begin to unravel its mysteries. Even then there is much the brain remains unwilling to yield yet about it amazing secret powers!

    What a privilege to step down roads of understanding, knowing there is so much more to glean along the way!

  7. GenniK says:

    Hi Ellen!
    Great post! I’m also quite pleased to hear you mention using Music to help make the switch from one side to the other. As a Middle School Music and Drama teacher, I often find myself showing my students how to use what I teach to help make connections in other areas of study. I am fortunate to have an administration that appreciates teaching the whole child.
    I’d love to explore more of your blogs(and any others) on the arts and brain-learning.

    Thanks

  8. eweber says:

    Thanks for kind words, when a leader supports improved practices – based on new neuro discoveries – learners and leaders will benefit:-) Bravo to your administration from the MITA Brain Center!

    Now it may be time for your school to consider leading change in the community – based on related brain discoveries. Broken systems are waiting in the pike for leaders with courage to make a difference for all students! Sounds like you and your faculty do just that:-)

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  11. […] In his book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, best selling author, Tony Schwartz reminds us that the right hemisphere of our brains tend to be under-developed. He quotes neuroanatomist, Jill Bolte Taylor’s mind-bending experience of left brain dominance until after suffering a ne…. […]

  12. Jacque Budd says:

    Question: Since the Right-Brain plasticity enabled Jill Bolte Taylor to recover from a stroke that severely damaged her left brain, can this also enable Alzheimer/Dementia patients recover too? Is there any literature or studies that address this question?

  13. eweber says:

    Jacque, there is some wonderful new research about the the brain rewires itself to map in ways that bypass broken areas. I’d like to suggest you read the book, “The Brain that Changes Itself,” by Norm Doidge (MD) You’ll love the case studies there!

  14. Jacque Budd says:

    eweber, thank you for such a prompt response. I’ll look into it.

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  18. Aubrey says:

    The information is very useful and the video is extremely touching. I loved it!! Well Done.

  19. Prof Chitsabesan says:

    How to practice using both sides of the brain? Is there any special exercise for it?

  20. eweber says:

    Good question – because we often use one side of the brain to the neglect of the other. The sciences call for more of the left side – so folks forget to make advances in the arts which can enhance science. The opposite is also true. Folks forget to add the wonders of science to build up beauty and relisilience in arts.

    To build both sides of the brain, use all 8 intelligences daily. For examples — see http://bit.ly/PaMlkn

  21. Prof Chitsabesan says:

    Dear Prof. I was, with my rich experience of more than 50 years of lecturing, baffled by the following incident no rather accident:

    I was speaking to a girl “Dear Child, you should learn to use both sides of your brain”.

    “Are, You” ? she yelled.

    “Yes” I roared

    She proved that she is already using both sides of her brain when she with her large round eyes rolling said “You have one”.

  22. Prof Chitsabesan says:

    Dear Prof

    I am from Chennai India. Have you ever been to India. Can I arrange your lectures to the students and Company Executives and others in Chennai, Coimbatore, Trichy and Madurai the main Centres of learning in my State of Tamilnadu.

  23. Lorraine says:

    Good theory, but I always find in these thoerys I tend to be directly split.It’s the same for the learning pathways! I seem to adapt and flicker between them both depending on the situation (and mood) equally. I also tend to pick up things fast and think differently to my class mates… Is this a good thing? Or bad thing?!
    I’m also double handed if that helps… :)

  24. Rex McIntyre says:

    I can say I do use both sides of my brain. Although most people do not or cannot use both sides of their brain. I can say I feel as tho both sides of my brain can be accessed equally. I can, as in a situation, i can analyze, organize and rationalize a situation but i can do it emotionally. In other words if you asked for advice I can help you (if I know a solution) by not being objective but merely just presenting you a solution. However, I will also present the information with kindness and as a helper and not as a person who merely just says do this, but also why you should do this in conjunction to your life and livelihood. I have been tested as OCD and a gift for psychology. I have also been tested as having great organization skills, communication skills and observation skills. I also have above average use of a photographic memory. I have been tested as a 180 IQ but it seems my skills are not one sides but more emotional but closely as left brain as well. Most people have called me a 2 brainer. My problem is i want to analyze and fix everyone’s emotional problems and even strangers passing by. I also notice everything in a room or about a person. Oddly enough woman hate as i notice every detail of her quickly with a first glances. Left brain organizes so as to keep me out of trouble with the person. But my right brain does kicks in and helps me to know which info to use and which info to not use when a person asks me what do you notice about me or think about me. However, i have been able to do this since i was a kid. Use to drive me crazy. I always wanted to be one of those people who just knew what to do and did it rather than analyze the pros and cons of every stinkin situation. So if anyone wants to be both sides equally, I say please do not wish for that. I say be more right brain with the ability to use wisely your left brain when needed but not in every situation. I have figured out how to do that now and embrace my uniqueness but it took me at least until i was 28 or so to figure it out. Thank you for your time sorry this post is so long!

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