Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Left Brain- Right Brain- Where is creativity?

By Michelle Harris

When I began reading the book ‘Opening the Mind’s Eye,’ by Ian Robertson, I was in search of different methods of creativity. However this book introduced to me the process of the use of language and images. These functions are located in different places in your brain. Alternative means of creative thought whether visualization or speech prompted me to reflect on the stereotype of left and right brained people. What I found from this research is that creativity functions through both sides of the brain where logical demands connect with empathetic reasoning.
Left brained people have the stereotype of being technical and calculated. Right brained individuals are stereotyped to be artistic and subjective. The dominance of left or right is essentially a development of skills. The meaning of art comes from the latin word ‘artem’.  Artem is defined as a skill resulting from practice. The meaning of technical comes from the Greek word ‘tekhinos’. Tekhinos means skilled in a particular art or subject. Architecture is a combination of the Greek words, ‘archon’, chief and ‘tekton’, builder. Architecture has evolved significantly since Ancient Greece and is now known for being a visually oriented practice.
As someone who considers myself as being visually oriented I see the process of creation as initiating regardless of the means. I was curious where in the brain creativity occurred. As I learned in ‘Opening the Mind’s Eye’ by Ian Robertson, object and face visualization fires the temporal lobes on either side of your brain. The movement of triggered neurons travels along both sides of the brain. The ‘where’ of spatial imagery is conducted in the parietal lobes. The messages communicated by active neurons travel over the top of the brain. The theory that one portion of the brain dominates the creative process is a myth. The interaction between left and right must occur concurrently to accomplish creativity.
In a study by researcher, Lisa Aziz-Zadeh, looked at brain scans of architecture students using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The participants looked at the shape of a circle, the shape of a C and the shape of an 8 while undergoing the brain scans. Then, the participants visualized what new images could be created if they rearranged the circle, C and 8. This was considered a creative task.
The architecture students also imagined arranging the three shapes together to make a square or rectangle. This was not considered as a creative task but rather a spatial processing task. The researchers found that during the creative task, the participants' brains lit up in the left hemisphere more than the right. This showed that the left brain was working to support the right brain's creativity. As foun in this study both sides of the brain work together to formulate creativity.
As an architecture student, creativity means to me learning and applying my education. Reading about the cooperation of both sides of the brain has encouraged me to consider creativity in architecture as a means of innovation. Innovation means responding to a challenge with more answers to foster a solution. Universally, this is true for creation. As I see it, the logistics of being an architect is to search for the intangible in a created form. By learning and applying a multiplicity of tools the solutions that we create will be able to be more varied. Creativity is discovered in the practice of architecture.

Rogers, M. (2013). Researchers debunk myth of "right brain" and "left-brain" personality traits. University of Utah, Office of Public Affairs. Retrieved from
Mansaray, David. Sept. 2011. Accessed Jan. 15 2014 <>
University of Southern California (2012, March 5). Scientists search for source of creativity.ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 15, 2014, from­/releases/2012/03/120305132438.htm

Robertson, Ian. ‘Opening the Mind’s Eye: Opening the Mind's Eye: How Images and Language Teach Us How To See’. St. Martin's Press; 1st edition, 2003.

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