Tag Archives: myth

Are You Right-Brained or Left-Brained?


While scrolling through Facebook or other social media websites, you might see an invitation to take a quiz to find out if you are “right or left-brained”. This quiz creates the idea that people tend to have a more “dominate” side to their brain. That somehow because of a domination of a hemisphere that you in turn have specific personality traits. Creating what, I believe to be, a cultural phenomenon. As the Buzzfeed’s video above suggests, those that are “left-brained” are considered more “logical, verbal, [and] structured…” while those who are “right-brained” are considered more “visual, artistic, [and] intuitive…”. Now, this can create the stigma that because someone excels in math is because they are “left-brained”.

I was too a believer in this idea. I was positive that somehow I was more a right-brained than a left-brained because of my artistic tendencies and aversion towards anything mathematical. As I now look upon this topic as a psychology major I am reminded of this article. In this article, Steven Novella discusses that the brain is certainly divided, being that the left and right hemispheres are connected via white matter such as the corpus callosum, and that they in turn have lateralized brain functions. It has been scientifically proven that the right hemisphere deals mainly with spatial activities such as drawing and recognizing faces and the left brain deals with more with analytic such as language and communication. Though using this to believe one is used more depending on the person is a huge overgeneralization of the brain and its processes.

While this idea may seem credible from reading over some of the brain’s functions, in reality it is far from the truth. It is true that the right and left brain have different modalities, but current research such as this article indicates that there is no favorability of one side of the brain than to the other.  The brain is much more complex that this theory would give it credit. The majority of the brain’s parts, such as the frontal lobe and the temporal lobe, are bilateral in which that they are present in both the left and right hemisphere. This requires the brain to work together. This does not mean that every single lobe in the brain is activated all of the time, but from remembering something to walking, this requires both of the brain’s hemispheres to process and execute that information or activity in an efficient manner.

Personally, I think that reinforcing the belief that people are either left and right brained is harmful to those who wish to further their education about the brain. While the point of the Buzzfeed quiz in its essence is not to find out which hemisphere of your brain is dominate, but it is rather to find out what your qualities and strengths are.

In conclusion, finding out what hemisphere is more “dominant” and the personality attributes that are a result is distancing oneself from the truth. I will admit that the article that debunks this myth is still fairly new, with it being released in 2013, and therefore there is still a good chunk of the population that are unaware of the truth. This may be true, but I still think it is worth to clear up this misconception whenever possible.

Lucy: A film fascinated with the human brain

Many of you may have  seen in theaters or a glimpse on TV commercials the movie “Lucy” (Trailer for Lucy) that was released in theaters July 25th, 2014. I personally have not seen this movie but I have seen TV commercials and have watched the trailer for this movie and grasped a basic understanding of what the movie is about. The concept of this movie was that humans only use 10% of their brains capacity but in a rare case, this woman Lucy is able to go beyond that 10% and acquire certain skills that other humans can not retrieve in their brain.

If you did not know before, this claim that we only use 10% of our brain is a myth. Authors, producers, directors, and the media use anything they can to make an interesting film or book society will want to buy or pay to see. There have been tons of movies and books on the end of the world phenomenon, for example, that people are fascinated with because it’s interesting for us to think about something we do not really know. The “10% Myth” is one of those marvels that some people may believe in and others not at all.

There has been many theories about where this myth of “We only use 10% of our brain” has come from. According to the Scientific American, the myth has been linked to the American psychologist and author William James, who argued in his novel “The Energies of Men” published in 1907, that we are only making use of a small part of our mental resources. They also said it has been associated with Albert Einstein, who used this figure to describe his own intellect.

Now we may ask ourselves, “Why does such a myth still exist?” A plausible reason why this myth has been popularly is because it is sometimes used to describe psychic powers according to Snope Magazine. People pay to see someone with “intuition” or “supernatural power.” These unique individuals are able to use 80-90% of their brain compared to the ordinary person that is only able to use “10%” favoring the myth for this specific business or entertainment. The myth is also common for people to use when one cannot remember or retain information that they want to tap into. If we can’t remember something, what else to blame but the brain?

If you are one of those people that are firm believers that we do only use 10% of our brain, then you probably found the film, “Lucy” pretty intriguing. From what I saw, she learned how to write Chinese in an hour, can move people with her mind, feel every living thing, and much more. This mix of unused intellect and intuitive brain powers fascinates people who believe in the 10% Myth that if we could access the other 90% of our brain, what would we be like and how would that change our society?

On the other side of the subject, people who believe the 10% Myth is really a myth can back the brain up with scientific studies on the brain. Looking at the Scientific American again, it’s true that at any given moment all of the brain’s regions are not simultaneously active, but brain researchers using imaging technology have shown that, just like the body’s muscles, most are continually active over a 24-hour period. This evidence would show over a day you use 100 percent of the brain according to neurologist John Henley. Barry Gordon at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine did admit that at certain moments when we are simply just resting and thinking, we may be using only 10 percent of our brains. He also said that we use virtually every part of the brain, and that [most of] the brain is active almost all the time. If you study the brain, you’ll find out that 10 percent of it is composed of neurons the other 90 percent are glial cells. The mystery of this known fact is that glial cells support neurons but their function are unknown. Coincidentally, it’s not that we use 10 percent of our brains, merely that we only understand about 10 percent of how it functions.

The film “Lucy” gives the field of cognitive psychology attention to where the field is advancing in the future with the improvement in imaging technology and scientific studies that can help us find out more about what goes on inside our head.