Warning: You may get a flashback to 9th grade biology reading this blog post, and you may feel compelled to flirt with the cute kid sitting next to you. Or, you may find yourself with an uncontrollable urge to sink lower into your seat to avoid the teacher’s gaze. But hang in there, there will be no test or grade afterwards. It’s just something to think about when you’re in class this week.
The corpus callosum is the part of our brain that facilitates communication between the right and left hemispheres of our brains. The bigger the corpus callosum is, the better the coordination between our right and left sides of our bodies. Research shows us that the absence of a corpus callosum can be problematic, leading to difficulties with vision, hearing, sleep, attention span, just to name a few.
When I was younger, I learned that the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, and vice versa. We now know that the division between the hemispheres is not so simple. Both sides of the brain are active whenever we do something, even though each side has a specialty.
I learned the other day that left-handed people continually confront tasks that demand they use their non-dominant hand (Berger, K. (2014) Invitation to the Life Span. New York City, New York: Worth. ). For instance, they shake hands with their right hand, but eat with their left. Or, they figure out how to use right-handed scissors (with their right hands) because left-handed ones are not as common in schools. (The other day I had to use a pair of left-handed scissors, though I worked them with my right hand! Holy Cow! Everything felt completely upside down!)
It may be this back-and-forth that causes left-handed people to have bigger corpus callosa than us righties. And, there is some evidence to suggest that people who are left-handed may have strengths in creativity and an ability to access both hemispheres of the brain. Judy Garland, Jimi Hendrix, Paul Simon, Michelangelo, Carol Burnett and Jim Henderson were all lefties.
In class, your child may reach for an instrument with her right hand, or her left. Of course, in Kindermusik class we would encourage a child to do what comes naturally in that regard. However, we also work on activities that develop coordination between the hemispheres—actions that require both sides of the body (running, skipping, even gentle baby massage in the infant class). It’s one more way that we are helping in the development of the whole of your child.