There are so many myths about authors, artists, and creative people in general that constantly do the rounds.
We all suffer from imposter syndrome. We all deal with writers’ block. We’re all tortured souls. We’re all dramatic. We’re either self-loathing or self-righteous. The clichés are all true…
No, they’re actually not. Neither are the myths.
I’ve seen newbies to writing, or a few years in, quoting myths as if they are gospel. They’re not. And just because an author “claims” to suffer from something, it does not equate to “all” authors suffering from it. It’s just their opinion on themselves, not other authors. But, as would happen, that line, that paragraph, that interior examination goes on to be legend, and not fact. Which is why all of these myths are myths. Because they are fiction and not categorical truth.
Which leads me to the myth we’re exploring in this post.
Did you know, there’s no such thing as being right or left brain?
Neurologists and neuroscientists proved decades ago, that there is no such thing as right-brain or left-brain creative, logical or other. It’s been long established that both hemispheres of the brain, linked by the corpus callosum, work hand in hand as one. While we have a creative section in our brain, it cannot bring the idea it just had to life without the rest of the brain working to figure it out.
So, I spent time googling (which you all should do) and came across some very interesting medical sites, and several doctors in the field of said organ of the body.
How did the left-brain vs right-brain myth come about?
This basically says it all on verywellmind.com: Researchers have demonstrated that right-brain/left-brain theory is a myth, yet its popularity persists. Why? Unfortunately, many people are likely unaware that the theory is outdated. In fact, the idea seems to have taken on a mind of its own within popular culture.
According to neuroscientist (yes, an actual brain expert) Dr Sarah Kay on her website: The two hemispheres of the brain are slightly different anatomically and microscopically (which means they look a bit different when you look at them with your eyes and down the microscope). And, the two hemispheres of the brain (connected by the corpus callosum) do perform different jobs. In the industry, we call this lateralisation of brain function. Lateralisation is the tendency for some neural functions or processes to be specialised to one side of the brain or the other.
Some neuroscientists theorise that these differences and the brain asymmetries of language, spatial perception and handedness probably led to the prevailing myth that personality and styles of thinking are also located to one hemisphere or the other.
Indre Viskontas, PhD, who’s an opera singer as well as a cognitive neuroscientist, (yes, another brain expert) from wondriumdaily.com says: One idea that has been overused and misinterpreted by many laypeople is the notion that the left side of your brain is logical and analytical while your right side is creative, and that, instead of working together, these two hemispheres compete with one another. The logic goes that if you can tap into your right brain, releasing it from dominance by the left, you can be more creative, or that you need to shut down your overbearing left hemisphere to do something original and artistic.
Where did this idea come from? Is any of it based on scientific evidence? There certainly is evidence that patients with specific lesions to one side of the brain may show a different symptom profile from patients with comparable lesions to the other side. The brain is to some extent modular, in that different brain regions are assigned different roles. But the truth is much more complex.
Carl Sherman on Dana.org says: Perhaps the most seductive and tenacious belief about brain lateralization is that the right hemisphere is the creative side—so much so that “right-brained” has become a kind of shorthand for “creative.” But creativity remains an elusive phenomenon that resists simple explanations. There is indeed evidence that a particular region of the right hemisphere is activated in certain kinds of creative breakthrough—the “aha” moment of insight in which the answer to a problem appears suddenly and without conscious knowledge of the steps that led there. But the problem-solving process leading up to the insight, it appears, depends on a more broadly distributed cortical network. What’s more, research suggests that a different manifestation of creativity, the ability to make up stories, weaving unrelated objects or phenomena into a coherent narrative, chiefly relies on the left brain.
The Britannica website says – The idea that there are right-brained and left-brained people is a myth. Although we all obviously have different personalities and talents, there’s no reason to believe these differences can be explained by the dominance of one half of the brain over the other half. Recent research using brain imaging technology hasn’t found any evidence of right or left dominance. One of the myth’s fatal flaws is that it relies on vague conceptions of the abilities it purports to explain. Math, for example, requires logical thought and, thus, is generally said to reside in the left brain, far away from all those artsy right-brain abilities. But mathematics is a profoundly creative endeavor in addition to being a logical one. So, would a gifted mathematician be a right-brained person or a left-brained person? Likewise, artistic creativity isn’t just unbridled emotion. Many of the greatest works of art are products of rigorous, precise thought.
Read the full article here on Britannica.
As you can see, there is very clear, categorical evidence of brain scans, and MRIs that repeatedly show the right side does not work independently, nor does the left, of each other. The brain works as a whole, to make everything happen. All working parts, all sections in each lobe in each hemisphere work together to make reading, writing, art, craft, science, mathematics, singing, dancing, and everything else we do, happen.
So, before you go perpetuating the myth, and any myth in general, understand why they are myths, and why they do not exist. Because they are myths. And, at least once you understand how all of this actually works, you can then tell people all about it and look like the smartest person in the room next time you have a conversation about authors, artists, and creative people in general. Be the smart one!