Are You a Lefty or a Righty

The main theme to emerge ... is that there appear to be two modes of thinking, verbal and nonverbal, represented rather separately in left and right hemispheres respectively, and that 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.

—Roger W. Sperry, 1981 Nobel Prize winner for research that separated and identified functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

It would seem that the notion of the relative dominance of the left side of the brain has been around for a long, long time. Our language and the way we refer to things are responses to how we think or feel about them. Language is full of negative references to anything "left," which means left hand and therefore right brain. Right is right, meaning right hand and the dominant left brain. There is such prejudice against left-handedness and the left generally—socially, politically, morally, and culturally—and early conceptions and language reflected that prejudice. This prejudice still goes on today; the right, the right hand, and the logical left brain overpower the undervalued left, the left hand, and the more intuitive right brain.

The fact is that the two sides of the brain each have their own jobs, strengths, and skills. The verbal left side is often dominant, while the right, nonverbal side responds to feelings and processes infor-mation differently. While the two sides can work independently or together for well-rounded response, the left side often takes over—even for tasks it's not suited for, like drawing. So when it comes to drawing, facilitating the "switch" from left to right is the idea, no matter which hand holds the pencil.

There does seem to be a difference between left- and right-handed people. Brain function is usually less lateralized in left-handed people than in right-handed people. Left-handed people tend to process information on both sides, bilaterally, while right-handed people tend to process information on one side. Bilateral, left-handed people can be more likely to have confusion in some areas, such as reading, but they are often highly creative people, excelling in art and music. Among the left-handed, for example, were the brilliant Italian Renaissance artists, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo.

Up until very recently, being left-handed was so much discouraged that many left-handed children were forced to become right-handed when they were very young. Not surprisingly, in addition to confusing their hand dominance, this also confused the bilateral organization of their left- and right-brain functions. If you suspect your hands were " switched at birth," you may want to try the exercises in this chapter with each hand.

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