Left-Brain or Right-Brain? Do Our Brains Determine Our Capacity for Creativity?

For some time now there has been a great deal of conversation around the left brain versus the right brain, and whether or not a person has the capacity for creativity. So can someone really use one part of their brain more, and be more creative because of it? According to Harvard Health Publishing faculty editor Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, there is more to the whole “left brain-right brain” conversation when it comes to a person’s capacity for creativity. As Shmerling’s piece discusses, folks who consider themselves “right-brained,” consider themselves to approach situations and life from a big picture framework, while folks that consider themselves “left-brained,” consider themselves to approach life experiences from a more “analytical” framework. This differentiation in approaches to life, work, and art is important — but is it truly the result of using one part of the brain more than another?

Shmerling argues that this is not the case. Shmerling asserts that while folks may have different personality traits or ways of thinking that lend themselves to be more creativity or more rooted in quantitative thinking, this is not an indication that a person uses of side of the brain more than another. Shmerling cites a study conducted from the University of Utah that looked at 1,000 different brain scans that indicated no differentiation in right-brain or left-brain activity. Unfortunately, this just hasn’t been proven yet.

So next time you think your creativity is linked to your “right-brainedness,” think again! Whether it is something that comes naturally to us, or is something we need to make an effort to practice — creativity is something that all of us are capable of exercising. As artists, for some of us creativity is something we must actively practice, whether it be by scheduling time for incorporating art into our lives, or making a concerted effort to find sources of inspiration. For others, creativity might be a less regimented experience. Regardless, creativity goes beyond the arts. When we choose to think creatively we are problem solving, coming up with innovative solutions, and considering new perspectives or frameworks for a given project or situation. Creativity is critical to creating and implementing innovative solutions to the problems that impact our communities.

Check out Dr. Robert Shmerling’s piece here.