A new study suggests that that our theories of the left-brained logical thinker or more free-spirited, creative right-brained individual are simply myths.
According to new research from University of Utah neuroscientists, no evidence exists within brain imaging that pinpoints a difference in the way humans use their brains.
The left-brained and right-brained discussion has greatly shaped popular culture's view on personality types, leading to the widely accepted idea that some people employ one side of the brain more than others.
For two years, researchers studied lateralization of brain function -- the mental processes that are specific to one side of the brain. They analyzed the resting brain scans of 1,011 people, ages 7 to 29, according to a press release from the university.
The brain scans used in the study were taken from a database called INDI, the International Neuroimaging Data-Sharing Initiative. The scans were gathered during a functional connectivity MRI analysis -- this is when a patient lays in a scanner for five to 10 minutes as their resting brain activity is analyzed.
The scientists broke up the brain into 7,000 regions, examining which areas were more lateralized. Though they uncovered patterns for why a brain connection may be strongly left- or right-lateralized, researchers found no relationship in subjects' use of their left-brain network or right-brain network more often.
“Everyone should understand the personality types associated with the terminology ‘left-brained’ and ‘right-brained’ and how they relate to him or her personally; however, we just don’t see patterns where the whole left-brain network is more connected or the whole right-brain network is more connected in some people. It may be that personality types have nothing to do with one hemisphere being more active, stronger, or more connected,” University of Utah researcher Jared Nielsen said in a press release.
Since certain brain functions do occur on specific sides of the brain, lead researcher Jeff Anderson understands why people may get the impression that their personality traits are connected to the lateralization of those functions.
“It’s absolutely true that some brain functions occur in one or the other side of the brain. Language tends to be on the left, attention more on the right. But people don’t tend to have a stronger left- or right-sided brain network. It seems to be determined more connection by connection, ” he said.
You can read more about the study here.