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How Do I Learn? Your Brain and Learning Styles

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The human brain has two hemispheres — the right hemisphere and the left hemisphere — that are connected by the corpus callosum, which is made up of 200 to 250 million nerve fibers, according to the University of Washington. Each hemisphere of the brain has functions in which it is dominant.

For example, the right hemisphere in the brain has dominance in spatial abilities, while the left hemisphere in the brain has dominance in logical abilities. Other right hemisphere dominant functions include music, facial recognition and visual imagery. Math and language are additional functions that the left hemisphere is dominant in.

Individuals have a hemispherical dominance, which impacts their learning style. Wright State University stated “in the development of the human brain, infants began with right brain dominance. This idea arose when researchers found that there is increased blood flow in the right brain during the first three years of life. Following three years, at some point in the fourth year, the left half of the brain receives more blood and becomes dominant.”

While many people are left-hemisphere dominant, there are individuals who are right-hemisphere dominant. Diane Connell, Ph.D., author of “Left Brain/Right Brain: Pathways to Reach Every Learner,” noted that some individuals are middle-brain dominant, which makes them more flexible than individuals who are left or right hemisphere dominant, but middle-brain dominant individuals also switch between the two hemispheres when they make decisions.

Knowing if you are right, left or middle-brain dominant can help you adjust your learning style. For example, Connell pointed out that a student with a left-hemisphere dominance may prefer to work in a quiet room on her own, while a student with a right-hemisphere dominance may prefer group activities and art projects.

New research conducted at Washington University at St. Louis suggests that brain scans may help detect how an individual will learn information. The study included 14 participants — an equal number of men and woman — who underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans while performing a task.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.