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Left Brain vs. Right Brain

Both ADHDers and highly creative individuals are thought to have differences in the left brain vs. right brain relationship.

“We have all met people who are good at grasping facts but tend either to be too literal in interpreting them or to miss the point altogether. Likewise, we know others (often people with artistic talent of some sort) who are erratic in dealing with facts and do poorly on tests but who have an amazing ability to grasp the gist of a story, the subtle shadings of meaning. We can only speculate whether these differences can be traced to hemispheric specialization” – Howard Gardner (author of “Multiple Intelligences”) from “Art, Mind & Brain.”

Right Brain Traits:

  • Intuitive: Follows hunches, or feelings, takes leaps of logic.

  • Nontemporal: having little or no awareness of time.

  • Random: arranges events and actions haphazardly.

  • Causal and Informal: deals with information on basis of need or interest at the time.

  • Concrete: relates to things as they are commonly known or understood. Explicit, precise.

  • Holistic: sees whole things all at one, overall patterns. Leading to divergent ideas.

  • Visual: uses imagery, responds to pictures, colors, shapes.

  • Nonverbal: responds to tones, music, body language, touch.

  • Visuo-spatial: uses intuition to estimate, perceives shapes.

  • Responsive: listens to music.

  • Originative: interest in ideas and theories imaginatively.

  • Emotional: suspicious judgment until it feels or seems right.

  • Learning: through exploration

Left Brain Traits:

  • Methodical: organizes information, classifies, categorizes, structures.

  • Temporal: keeps track of time, thinks in terms of past, present, future.

  • Sequential: arranges events and actions in consecutive succession.

  • Linear: thinks in terms of sequence, one thought directly following another. Leads to convergent conclusions.

  • Factual: deals with details, items, the particulars, features of a thing.

  • Verbal: used words to name, describe, and define things.

  • Systematic and Formal: processes information methodically, in a well-planned way.

  • Learning: through systematic plans

After reading the above lists, it may seem that ADHDers are simply missing their entire left brains, but I haven’t yet run across that in the literature. What I do find are theories about “disinhibition from normal levels of dominant hemispheric control.” I think that means the left brains aren’t quite as dominant in ADHDers as they are with “normal” people, so the right brain has a looser rein, so to speak. The right brain is therefore allowed to go further, to do more.

This does not mean ADHDers are right brain dominant. But their left brain may simply be less dominant than in others. Dyslexia, which is unusually common in ADHDers, is also thought to be related to differences in hemispheric domination, so that neither sphere is the boss.

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