What does it mean to be left-brained or right-brained?
Your brain is made up of two sides (hemispheres), and each side is responsible for a different type of thinking.1
The left hemisphere of the brain is responsible for logical, analytical and objective thinking.1 Meanwhile, the right hemisphere is responsible for intuitive, subjective and holistic thinking.1
You may unknowingly “choose” a left-brain or right-brain way of thinking based on how you prefer to find solutions to problems or questions.1 Some people are able to find a balance between both (known as “whole-brain” thinking), but many of us have a preference at least some of the time, making us either left-brain dominant or right-brain dominant.1
So, how does your dominant thinking style show up in your learning style and study habits?
Characteristics of Left-brained and Right-brained Students
Which of the following sets of characteristics best describe you and your learning style?1,2,3
LEFT-BRAIN DOMINANT STUDENT
RIGHT-BRAIN DOMINANT STUDENT
Often a more verbal learner (responds to words)
Often a more visual learner (responds to images)
Uses reason and logic to solve problems
Uses creativity or intuition to solve problems
Carefully plans ahead
Prefers to “go with the flow”
Focuses on fine details
Good at following information in a logical order
Prefers to process information in a varied order
Tends to be highly organised
Struggles to stay organised
More likely to respond to logic and facts
More likely to respond to emotion, humour, tone of voice etc.
Prefers a formal study setting with bright lighting
Prefers informal study settings with background music and the option to move around
If you’re in more of a “grey area” and curious about what your dominant thinking style could be, try taking an online personality test to find out if you favour your left or right brain.4
Fun Fact: Left-brained thinkers (“verbal” thinkers) find it easier to remember people’s names, but right-brained thinkers (“visual” thinkers) find it easier to remember people’s faces.2,3 So, the dominant side of your brain affects your social interactions as well as your learning style.
Study Tips for Left-brained and Right-brained Learners
Now that you have a better understanding of your thinking and learning style, here are some useful tips to help you with your studies.
LEFT-BRAIN DOMINANT STUDENT: 1,2,3,5
Create a neat, organised study space with good lighting.
Make sequential lists, spreadsheets or charts to study from.
Wear noise-cancelling headphones to enjoy a quiet study environment.
Use tools like acronyms and mnemonic devices to help you memorise facts.
Read your notes out loud or discuss them with a study partner to help you understand the topics.
RIGHT-BRAIN DOMINANT STUDENT: 1,2,3,5
Create an inspiring study space where you can move from one spot to another easily.
Make visual mind maps or diagrams to study from.
Play music that helps you to focus while you study.
Use visual tools like flashcards to help you memorise facts.
Watch educational videos and animated mind maps to help you understand the topics.
Fleming, G. How to tell if you are right-brain dominant. ThoughtCo. 2020. thoughtco.com/right-brain-dominant-students-1857175