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Is left brain/right brain theory a reality or myth?

When I see my husband sitting in the office doing paper work, which is a part of everyone's life, I always think (and sometimes tell him) that it is important that he lives longer than me, otherwise I will surely be put in jail for non-payment of funds or something related. It is certain the checkbook will never balance. (I mean, really, in my eyes who even wants to try?)

He likes order and I appreciate that. I like order, too, but in a more general way. In his drawers you will see organization; in mine you will see what looks like chaos, but I can immediately put my finger on whatever I am looking for. I call it organized disorder.

E-mail forwards have to look pretty interesting or new to me or I usually skip them, but when I was going through my e-mail, I opened one that told me to click on It is a color test that is supposed to trick the brain. You have four seconds to choose the color of the word, not the word. My first try was dismal, but I got better as I practiced. The test really strained my brain — such concentration. It made me wonder if this was a left brain/right brain thing going on with me and whether the left brain/right brain theory is a reality or a myth.

The left cerebral hemisphere has developed the reputation of being the organized, logical and verbal side of the brain associated with detail, while the right side has been purported to be the spatially aware imaginative and emotional side that sees the broad picture. But studies show they both participate in different functions and actually work together to produce a result.

I found much food for thought about all of this on the Internet, including an article by John McCrone that summarized some of the studies that have been done in this area.

According to McCrone, Joseph Hellige, a psychology professor at the University of Southern California, concluded that "researchers have come to see the distinction between the two hemispheres as a subtle one of processing style, with every mental faculty shared across the brain, and each side contributing in a complementary, not exclusive, fashion. A smart brain became one that simultaneously grasped both the foreground and the background of the moment."

An interesting finding was that people who suffered right-brain strokes can no longer get jokes or allusions, but they can understand the literal meaning of sentences. The implication of this discovery is that to make the more playful connections, one needs an intact right brain. Another finding supports that the brain can highlight what it wants to see. In visual perception, when an image falls on the retina of the eye, the brain can actually increase the sensitivity of some cells and suppress the activity of others, according to the article.

There are some who consider the idea of brain lateralization to be a mess and far from being solved. The brain is obviously very complex. I am no scientist and probably should stop right here, before I get myself in deeper. But I'd like to end with a thought from University of Dusseldorf professor Gereon Fink, M.D., who, and I'm quoting McCrone here, believes that "Overall, the bulk of the evidence still suggests that the left brain is orchestrated to a state of local bias, while the right-side processing is tilted towards the global. But just how these attention effects express themselves in terms of the activity of individual brain areas ... depends rather on the nature of the task."

And so, with my illogical brain, I will conclude that if I ever am forced to do paper work, I will rely on Dr. Seuss, who wrote, "You have brains in your head, You have feet in your shoes, You can steer yourself any direction you choose."

That will be my mantra.