Monday, October 08, 2007

Let Me Look Into Your Brain...

My friend Dirk, who forwards me all manner of quirky stuff from the sublime to the truly tasteless (Dirk knows me well, obviously), has now sent me a curious little item involving a dancer's rotating silhouette. Allegedly, if you see the dancer turning one way, you're left-brained, and if you see her turning the other way, you're right-brained.
Whether this particular test is accurate, I couldn't say, but she seemed to go one way for me for a minute or so, then appeared to stop and change direction, and then seemed to go back to her original direction. This is not how she appears to most people; supposedly the meaning was that I'm smarter than the average bear but more right-brained than left since I mostly saw the right-brained direction.
This reminded me of an old right-brain/left-brain test a co-worker gave me long ago which somewhere along the line failed to get moved onto my most recent computer. This test not only checks for right- and left-brain preference, but also auditory and visual. Well, the first time I took said test, I scored 50% on every preference. Subsequent tries at the test wandered around a bit but confirmed that I don't really seem to favor right- or left-brainedness or auditory or visual.
After staring at Dirk's dancing figure for awhile, I decided to see if I could find the old test on the internet. Rather to my surprise, I found it right away.
You too can take the test--I found it at where there are some instructions about taking it (mainly to give your name as 50 because this triggers it to give you more questions, which is rather peculiar).
I still scored right in the middle, with a 50/50 right-left split and 56.8% auditory, 43.2% visual. The personal evaluation tells me I'm well balanced but not a very efficient learner since I use a variety of approaches, not necessarily by choice. But, it says, I should feel content with myself although being a little indecisive and not being as creative as my potential (?! I think this refers to wasting time studying art history rather than creating on my own 100% of the time...). On the whole, the thing seems to know what it's talking about. If I can do something using five different methodologies instead of just one, I'll try to use six. And I wouldn't say that either my auditory or my visual skills strike me as reliably strong. I never know whether I'll remember a whole conversation practically word-for-word or just have a vague notion that it was about X. When certain members of my committee try to get me to remember what Picasso's Still Life with Chair Caning looks like (one of those less than stellar moments from my comprehensive exams), they're lucky to hear me mention the chair caning and the rope frame. I do have a good recollection of Picasso and Braque's favorite cubist color scheme, though.
What the test is missing, in my opinion, is the kinesthetic. This usually seems to get left out by everyone except people who study athletes. For that matter, even people who write about it seem to have a limited understanding of its varied nature. For example, has a pretty good piece on different learning styles and how to study depending on your dominant learning style. It assumes, however, that everyone who learns kinesthetically is fidgety, a poor speller, and good at sports and role-playing. As someone who learns numerous things best by doing them physically, I can assure you that I have never been very fidgety, have been an excellent speller since the age of 9, and was unimpressive at sports until I took up skiing at a rather advanced age. Something is not being gotten across about kinesthetic learning.



Blogger Kristen said...

Phooey. I can't do it--it's a PC only exe file. Oh well.

Your fans are not surprised to see more results noting your superior intelligence and abilities. ;)

October 09, 2007 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also have no left / right preference, but I am 61% visual. But I am not sure that means much because I could see multiple relationships when I clicked. For example, letters that looked the same, but were also 4 letters apart in the alphabet. So my choices were a bit arbitrary.


October 09, 2007 2:56 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

Kristen, try it on one of the lab computers.

I agree on the multiples. I see more than one relationship and often I have no preference, so I try to pick whatever has the strongest resonance for me at that instant. But I think it's the arbitrary choosing among multiple possibilities (that are all visible to us) that marks us as not all that strongly one thing or another, although it seems reasonable that Travis, as another art historian, would end up more on the visual side.

October 09, 2007 3:01 PM  
Blogger P'tit-Loup said...

Another site that tests and talk anout theses preferences is It then gives tips on how to study for your preferred modality. Do you have the link to the dancer? I would love to check it out.

October 09, 2007 5:27 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

I don't know where Dirk got the dancer, unfortunately. He emailed her.

October 10, 2007 2:51 AM  
Anonymous Dirk said...

The dancer was e-mailed to me. A programmer acquaintance kind of took apart the code (a Java applet I presume) and she says there are alternating left and right images.

I got more response to this than any thing I have ever floated. I sent it to maybe a dozen people and maybe half of them responded. I guess folks want other folks to know how their brains line up.

October 20, 2007 2:15 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

Not just letting other people know which way they see it... the rotating dancer seems to be the latest internet craze, judging by the surge in traffic here. Maybe even more traffic than when I mentioned the cartoon-rabbit version of Brokeback Mountain.

October 21, 2007 12:05 AM  

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