Who Needs Their Right Brain in Science?

Science and engineering have always been painted as “logical/left brain centric”, that cannot be performed by “emotional/right brain centric” people. However, a documentary put together by Neuroscientist David Eagleman demonstrates that its more of a team effort then a race between the 2 sides of our brain.

In Episode 4 of “The Brain“, an engineer in a motorbike accident underwent a surgery to cut the connection between left and right half of her brain.

While she improved physically, the long term effect of the surgery was that she cannot make decisions on even the most basic of things. In a grocery store, she struggled to choose between the myriad of products that are the same (e.g. between different type of potatoes).

This is because we make decisions based on which option “feels good” to us. Unconsciously we score options from the “emotional side” of the brain. The “logical” left brain rely on that scoring to finalise a decision.

When that feedback from the right is no longer available to our logical left brain, no decision can be made as all options look exactly as appealing as each other.

In real life, 2 people put in the same dilemma may choose varying options. Different people put different “emotional weights” on the same options based on their individual backgrounds and experiences.

This shows that intuition and gut feel is just as important in a “logical” field like science as the hard nosed facts.

For those after a heavier read (i.e. more information), there is a survey of research from Harvard that summarises the common themes on which people base their decisions on emotionally.


This is an unpaid post. We have no association with Dr David Eagleman, Harvard or PBS.