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The Model of Brain Hemispheres: Exploring the Myth of Laterality

Updated: Aug 4

The model of brain hemispheres is a theory that has gained popularity in the educational field and in popular culture at large. According to this theory, each cerebral hemisphere (left and right) has specific functions and characteristics, and some people have a dominant hemisphere that influences their way of processing information and learning. However, it is essential to understand that this theory is not as straightforward as it seems and has been a subject of controversy among scientists and experts in neuroscience.

The Origin of the Model of Brain Hemispheres

The model of brain hemispheres became popular in the 1960s through the studies of psychologist Roger Sperry, who received the Nobel Prize in 1981 for his research on the split brain. Sperry conducted experiments with patients who had undergone a surgery called "commissurotomy," in which the main connection between the cerebral hemispheres was severed to treat epilepsy. He discovered that the left and right hemispheres of the brain processed information differently and that, in some cases, each hemisphere seemed to have its independent thoughts.

What the Model of Brain Hemispheres Claims

According to this model, it is said that people with a dominant left hemisphere are more analytical, logical, and verbal, while those with a dominant right hemisphere are more creative, intuitive, and visual. It has been suggested that those with a dominant hemisphere should learn using specific methods that cater to their thinking style. For instance, purported "left-brained thinkers" are recommended to use words and numbers for learning, while "right-brained thinkers" are suggested to utilize images and visual associations.

Controversy and the Reality of the Model

Despite its popularity, numerous studies have challenged the validity of the model of brain hemispheres. The reality is that the brain is a highly interconnected and flexible organ. Most mental tasks, such as reading, writing, reasoning, and problem-solving, involve the active collaboration of both hemispheres, working together to carry out these complex functions.

Furthermore, although certain functions may be lateralized in a particular hemisphere, the distribution of skills varies significantly among individuals. That is, not everyone has such a clearly defined dominant hemisphere, and the concept of being exclusively "left-brained" or "right-brained" is an oversimplification of the neuroscientific reality.

Instead of categorizing individuals based on a supposed cerebral laterality, neuroscientists emphasize the importance of promoting the integrated use of both hemispheres in the learning process. Stimulating brain plasticity, i.e., the brain's ability to reorganize and adapt to new situations and learning, is fundamental to intellectual and cognitive development.

The model of brain hemispheres has been an interesting and appealing approach to understanding the complexity of the human brain and how we learn. However, it is important to remember that this theory has been a subject of debate in the scientific community and should not be taken as an absolute truth in education. Neuroscience has shown that learning is a multifaceted and highly interconnected process involving multiple brain regions working in coordination.

Instead of labeling students according to supposed hemispheric thinking styles, educators should adopt inclusive and diversified pedagogical approaches that foster the comprehensive development of all cognitive and emotional skills of students. By harnessing brain plasticity and providing a variety of learning experiences, educators can help students reach their full potential and embrace the complexity of their unique mental capacity."

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