Right Brain vs. Left Brain

(this has nothing to do with politics)

This section of the website is just for fun, to explain the idea behind the imagery of the home page. And, I guess, to explain a little about me and where I am coming from.

Most of the business owners that I come into contact with seem to be left-brain dominant, which explains their success in business. But when it comes to doing the advertising or presenting the business image, they desire the help of someone like myself.

Along with my “creative” education I have also had a lot of analytical education. I started my college career in pursuit of an Architectural degree. I enjoyed the “Arts” and did well in Math & Science. I put the two together and came up with Architecture. It made sense to me.

Well, long story short, after two years of college, pursuing this dream, I realized that I much preferred the creative end of things and found out that Architecture was more weighted on the analytical side. So I took a year off, changed majors and colleges, and pursued a Graphic Arts degree. This brings me to who I am today, a Graphic Artist who has so much Math and Science in his background he doesn’t know what to do with it all (Not actually true, I haven’t done anything with it, so I have lost most it. But it has shaped my thinking process, so I guess it was a good thing).

Well, I said all that to say this; with the Math & Science shaping my thinking in my earlier years, I can relate to those that are “Left Brain” dominant. I view myself as bridging the “Left Brain” and the “Right Brain” people together.

So what is this theory of Left & Right Brain thinking? The basic theory was introduced by Roger Sperry in 1973 and it goes something like this: The structure and functions of the mind suggest that the two different sides of the brain control two different “modes” of thinking. It also suggests that each of us prefers one mode over the other. Most individuals have a distinct preference for one of these styles of thinking. Some, however, are more whole-brained and equally adept at both modes.

In general, our educational system tends to favor left-brain modes of thinking, while down playing the right-brain ones. The left brain is associated with verbal, logical, and analytical thinking. It excels in naming and categorizing things, symbolic abstraction, speech, reading, writing, and arithmetic.

The right brain, on the other hand, functions in a non-verbal manner and excels in visual, spatial, perceptual, and intuitive information. The right brain looks at the whole picture and quickly seeks to determine the spatial relationships of all the parts as they relate to the whole. It seems to flourish dealing with complexity, ambiguity, and paradox. At times, right brain thinking is difficult to put into words because of its complexity, its ability to process information quickly, and its non-verbal nature. The right brain is associated with subjects like music, art class, finger painting, and the realm of creativity.

For example, balancing a checkbook is best left to the left brain. The left brain engages in a very systematic, sequential and exact approach to getting the job done. The left brain strives for accuracy in making sure the numbers balance. If the right brain were in charge of this activity, it would probably be content if the entries made a nice asymmetrical pattern and if the numbers came sort of close to balancing that would be a bonus (not a particularly effective way to balance your checkbook).

Now let’s consider another activity: Driving on the interstate. This is clearly the domain of the right brain; spatial relationships, the ability to process information quickly, and to see the whole picture from all of the parts. If the left brain were in charge here, you would probably hear something like this: “Now the truck is approaching on the right entrance ramp at a speed of 35 miles per hour, while the white sports car is approaching in the left lane, at 70 miles per hour, swerving slightly in and out of the right lane, and up ahead is a slowly moving car, traveling about 50 miles per hour, that keeps putting on its brake lights every ten or fifteen seconds…” As you can tell, this style of processing information is too slow. The right brain takes over and quickly assesses what has to be done and reacts accordingly. Unfortunately, many of us seem to get stuck behind the person that won’t let their right brain take over.

The right brain taking over becomes significant because many times when a person drives a car, the left brain basically checks out and the right brain emerges as dominant. The left brain is “suspended.” When this happens, many people experience some of their most creative thinking. How about when you take a shower or when you are just about to fall asleep? You release the right brain and shut down the left. Do you ever wonder why you had that really bizarre dream that didn’t make any sense when you woke up, but it made total sense while asleep? I have figured out how to fly unassisted while sleeping, only to wake up to write it down and couldn’t put it into words.

The main theme to emerge is that there appears to be two modes of thinking, verbal and nonverbal, represented rather separately in the left and right hemispheres, respectively. Our educational system, as well as science in general, tends to neglect the nonverbal form of intellect. What it comes down to is that modern society discriminates against the right hemisphere. Hence the reason I have work - I chose to continue finger painting and the majority of society did not (I had a few more classes than just finger painting, but you get the idea).

Therefore, as a Graphic Designer, how do you design a website to represent your business when you could do just about anything? I had just taken a little test earlier in the week to see which side of my brain dominates (just for fun). Scoring evenly on both sides got me going down this road of Left & Right brain thinking. So why not use it for a theme for my website? It relates to me and gives me a vehicle in which to answer my problem, what to do for a website.

Notice that the left side of the home page represents the left brain - mathematical equations, text and everything is black and white. The right side represents, you guessed it, the right side of the brain - images and color. And notice that there is some overlap on both sides. In the end I hope this site fulfills a left sided goal, to be a helpful tool for business.

I don’t know how much stock you should put into this theory of Left & Right Brain. Further, newer research basically claims that Sperry was full of hooey. So let it stimulate a little thought, I liked it because it gave me something to develop my web graphics around.

Have a great day,
Ken Hofheinz