Archive | March, 2011

VIA Idea #17

25 Mar

Celebrating Brain Awareness Week!

Are you a right-brained or a left-brained thinker? Like handedness, one side or the other of our brain is nearly always dominant. But thinking and learning are enhanced when we work on using both halves to process information. You may already know how you best learn. Read on to learn more or jump ahead to take a quick test. Either way, by paying attention to your less dominant style you can learn how to improve it.

Linear v. Holistic Processing

  • The left brain takes pieces of information, arranges them logically and draws conclusions.
  • The right brain looks for the big picture, and then breaks it down into its components. It wants to start with the answer and work toward the details.

Right-brained people first want to know why. They may find it difficult to follow a lecture unless they’ve first read background information. That way, the details of the lecture make sense. They’ll also rebel against outlining a report or project. They prefer to write it first, and then make the outline if the job requires one. Left-brained people could exercise their right brain by trying this approach.

Sequential v. Random Processing

  • The left brain is a list-maker, completing tasks in order and checking them off when they are accomplished. Learning something in sequence is relatively easy, like processing math problems and following directions.
  • The right brain approach is random, resisting schedules and lists.

Left-brained people tend to be more organized; right-brained people may accomplish the same amount of work but may not have prioritized that work. Right-brained people might use colors to help them in sequencing. They may also “walk” a sequence, either physically or in their imagination.

Symbolic v. Concrete Processing

  • The left brain is comfortable with symbols (letters, words, or math notations). It will memorize vocabulary words or math formulas.
  • The right brain wants to see, feel, or touch. The preference is to see words in context or see how the formula works.

To exercise your right brain, seek out hands-on activities. Draw a math problem or sketch a map.

Logical v. Intuitive Processing

  • Left brains express themselves in words.
  • Right brains need concrete images.

Exercise your right brain by listening to your “gut feeling.” Then solve the problem logically and see if your intuition was right.

Verbal v. Nonverbal Processing

  • The left brain uses available data to solve a math problem. It reads and listens to draw logical conclusions.
  • The right brain trusts intuition. It may know the answer to a math problem but not be able to explain the steps.

When giving directions, a left-brained person will give a detailed explanation: “from here, go five blocks to Pine Street, then turn north.” A right-brained person might say “drive past the big pine tree until you get to the railroad tracks.” Left-brained people can exercise their right brains by visualizing or illustrating things they read or hear.

Think you know if you’re right- or left-brained? Take this 20-question test to find out which side dominates your life.

Article adapted from content on

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