Arts and Sciences: Bridging the Gap

Illustration by Matthew Page.

Are you left-brained or right-brained? Are you more analytical and logical in your thinking, or more intuitive and imaginative? This concept of the brain having a dominant hemisphere has pervaded popular culture since it was first proposed in the 1960s. While it is true that the two halves of the brain are different from each other and process different sorts of information, is one really dominant over the other? This is not so. In fact, neuroscientific research has shown that there is no evidence that our brains favour one side. In any given situation, both halves of the brain are complementary, and engaged in interaction. For example, the right brain may allow you to recognise a colour, but the left side of the brain assigns a name to this, such as “blue.” However, the idea of having a dominant half of the brain continues to exist and impact how we view human nature.

The separation of the creative and scientific mind is starkly highlighted in the world of academia. Bachelors’ and Masters’ degrees are often in the arts or the sciences, with academic subjects divided up between the two. There seems to be a cultural and academic belief that the two are separate entities and do not overlap. But why are they separated? Why are we made to believe that you cannot do both? Where does that leave those of us that identify as both creative and scientific? Personally, I often feel caught between the two worlds, belonging to both while not entirely exclusive to either.