Your baby’s brain can be divided into many parts that perform different tasks, but all of these parts work together. Another way of looking at her brain structure is by differentiating it into right and left hemispheres.
The right hemisphere deals with information using more yin processes, such as imagination, spontaneity, sensitivity, and intuition. Her left side is more yang, using analysis, facts, and logic. Her right brain controls the left side of her body by gathering information from images and detecting visual patterns. Her left brain controls the right side of her body as it takes in literal interpretation of words, governs sequences, and perceives visual details.
Even though each hemisphere may have its special functions, your child needs both sides of her brain to work together for optimal results in her thought processes. Her corpus callosum is a wide bundle of neural fibers that connects the hemispheres of her brain in order to share information.
At birth, your baby’s corpus callosum exists, but it is undeveloped. At this early age, your baby’s corpus callosum grows to bridge her two hemispheres and to conduct information between them. It can also shut down to inhibit this communication when exclusive focus on a specialized function is necessary.
The left hemisphere of the brain specializes in these functions:
- Logic and analysis
- Noticing details and differences
- Control of small muscles
- Spoken language and reading
- Thoughts and processing external information
- Recognizing words and numbers
- Arithmetic and calculations
- Conscious motivation
The right hemisphere of the brain specializes in these functions:
- Big-picture thinking
- Abstract thought
- Control of large muscles
- Emotions and internal emotional processing
- Interpretation of nonverbal communication, such as gestures, body language, and tone
- Understanding of information, creating context, seeing patterns
- Special visual recognition, such as faces and specific places
- Relational mathematics
- Unconscious motivation
The hemispheres of the brain do not grow at the same rate. In fact, your baby’s left brain is undeveloped at birth. According to a 1997 study by pediatric neurologist Catherine Chiron MD, PhD, director of research at the French Institute of Health and Medical Research, children are more right-brain dominant during their first three years.
From your child’s right-brain perspective, her world of imagination, fantasy, and make-believe lead, until her left brain begins to develop and she can incorporate more advanced language and logic. Young children are naturally inspired to imagine and to play as they learn, unless they are interrupted or do not have the opportunity to explore from their own initiative.
When I compare the brain dominance of my daughters, I would say that Emi tends to be more left-brained (yang) while Mari leans toward the right-brained (yin) side. After Emi attended a birthday party as a toddler, she remembered the details of the clothes that everyone at the party had worn. Meanwhile, Mari has always excelled at art and abstract thought. However, even though both daughters have overall tendencies, both sides of their brains work together, and through many experiences, they have learned to use their whole brains.