NBI – Neethling Brain Institute




What is a BRAIN PROFILE? - Kobus Neethling

Roger Sperry and the Brain Profile 

In 1981 Roger Sperry received the Nobel Prize in Physiology “for his discoveries concerning the functional specialization of the cerebral hemispheres”. Sperry, his student Michael Gazzaniga and the neurosurgeon Joseph Bogen, performed the first ‘split brain operation’, and can be credited with some of the most important insights we have of the physiology of the brain today. After the first successful ‘split brain’ operation on a patient suffering from severe epilepsy, similar operations were performed on numerous other patients. The operation entails the severing of the corpus callosum, which is the main connection between the left- and right hemispheres of the brain. 

Sperry discovered that each hemisphere of the brain had its own specialized functions, confirming a hypothesis that had existed for a number of years. Sperry himself declared, “Each disconnected hemisphere appears to have a mind of its own”. A very practical example of this came when one of Sperry’s patients got involved in an argument with his wife. The patient reached out to grab her with his one hand, but to everyone’s surprise, the other hand immediately grabbed the aggressive hand back. Although the average person is not confronted with this extreme kind of behaviour (largely because our corpus callosum is still in place), it has become clear that most of us prefer the functions and processes of one of the two hemispheres to the other. Michael Gazzaniga elaborates further on their research: “It became clear that visual information no longer moved between the two sides. If we projected an image to the right visual field - that is, to the left hemisphere, which is where information from the right field is processed - the patients could describe what they saw. But when the same image was displayed to the left visual field, the patients drew a blank: they said they didn’t see anything. Yet if we asked them to point to an object similar to the one being projected, they could do so with ease. The right brain saw the image and could mobilize a nonverbal response. It simply couldn’t talk about what it saw.

The same kind of finding proved true for touch, smell and sound. Additionally, each half of the brain could control the upper muscles of both arms, but the muscles manipulating hand and finger movement could be orchestrated only the by contra lateral hemisphere. In other words, the right hemisphere could control only the left hand and the left hemisphere only the right hand.”

Torrance and Neethling

Between 1988 and 1991 Torrance and Neethling identified 2000 adults (52 percent females and 48 percent males with an age range of between 18 and 80) and 1500 pupils (with an equal distribution between 10 and 19 years of age). A question with four possible responses was posed to each of the subjects, who then had to arrange their personal thinking preferences from the strongest to the lowest. Research on the Torrance Left/Right Brain instruments (with special focus on the SOLAT Test) suggested that each hemisphere hosted two specific thinking processes. Each question selected for this initial research included two left brain thinking processes as well as two right brain processes:


When I study I prefer

  1. to learn the facts (L1---SPECIFIC)
  2. to study according to a timetable (L2---PROCESS)
  3. to study in a pleasant atmosphere (R2---MOOD, SENSITIVE)
  4. to get the big picture and not to focus on the details (R1--- INTUITIVE, BIG PICTURE)

Neethling found that thinking preferences fell equally into four preference-clusters, corresponding to the four quadrants. Both the validity and reliability levels of each of the quadrants were found to be higher than 0.80. (Research Venter, Korf)

The resulting Brain Profile is in essence the synopsis or summary of the person’s thinking preferences at a specific time in his/her life. Because the point of departure is ‘thinking preferences’, it is important to note that there are no bad or wrong profiles. A  Brain Profile is a descriptive, non-judgmental analysis, with no profile being better or worse than another. Instead, the profile gives a description of an individual’s thought preferences, and recommendations are made based on those preferences.

These recommendations could focus on:

  • personal development
  • subject or career choices
  • lifestyle changes
  • business improvements
  • personal relationships
  • improving education and sport achievements
  • parenting
  • leadership and management
  • plotting the future
  • and many other possibilities

It is possible that the profile indicates that an individual has a very strong thinking preference for order, planning and organisation, but has never had the chance to develop the skills to plan and organise. The recommendation in this instance would be that since the desire/preference is there, the skills to support that desire should be developed in order to be effective in a given career.

On the other hand, it is possible that a person has excellent skills to be a banker, but has a very low preference for that specific kind of job which could lead to a rejection of the processes associated with the job. The individual would therefore not be able to sustain the passion and energy to stay happy and productive in the banking environment.

Brain profile summary

Young Child L/R Brain Indicator (4 - 8 years)

If your child is Left brain dominant, the following behaviour will most probably be observed:

  • does things very methodically and step by step
  • room is mostly neat
  • puts away his/her toys
  • does not throw in the towel easily
  • keeps to rules most of the time
  • wants to practice new skills well
  • mostly on time and likes detail
  • reliable and conscientious
  • not comfortable with change
  • wants to organize things and people
  • wants to do things faultlessly
  • fastidious and can sometimes be bossy
  • achievement is very important
  • likes to analyse
  • looks at things realistically
  • interested in technology
  • like everything to be correct and perfect
  • can be a perfectionist
  • often criticizes
  • wants to know exactly how things work
  • regards it as important to know how far, how long, how deep

Other Left Brain Traits

  • Asks what and how questions
  • Is interested in technical toys.
  • If something makes sense he/she will agree.
  • Does things in logical order: if he has found a recipe that works, he/she will use it repeatedly.
  • Is very critical and sometimes regards his/her own opinion too highly.
  • Is not always considerate towards others
  • Does not venture easily - likes to follow tried and tested ways.
  • Does not like change, is easily upset by it.
  • Is usually very neat and orderly, often punctual.
  • Is a doer: he does not only dream, he gets the work done.
  • Has difficulty in showing emotions and socialising.
  • Will apply the rules when playing a game and if is opposed, will withdraw.
  • Is very reliable 

If your child is Right Brain Dominant, the following behaviour will most probably be observed: 

  • a daydreamer and imaginative
  • adapts easily to change
  • becomes bored with something quickly
  • often asks “why” and “what if” questions
  • wonders about the future a great deal
  • likes to embark on something new
  • room is often chaotic
  • usually forgets the time
  • does not pay much attention to particulars
  • has difficulty in concentrating on one thing for a long time
  • engaged in various things simultaneously
  • comfortable with physical display of love
  • very loving and likes to share feelings
  • likes friends and is fond of visiting
  • shows empathy towards others
  • inclined to become emotional
  • can become very enthusiastic about things
  • sensitive and artistic
  • talks easily and can sometimes be very dramatic
  • moody, varies between joy and pessimism
  • likes to perform in front of people

Other Right Brain Preferences 

  • Likes to socialise with one or more friends.
  • Likes to play with dolls or figurines and creates dialogue between the characters.
  • If he/she does not like somebody or something, he/she will show it clearly and will avoid having anything to do with that thing or person.
  • Is sensitive (can act sympathetically or manipulate)
  • Likes to have more than one pet and takes good care of them.
  • If he/she learns, he/she must like the content of the work,
  • A good relationship between him/her and his teacher is essential.
  • Can sit alone for hours painting or drawing.
  • Can sometimes “get lost” in a daydream, a world of his/her own.
  • Deals easily with change and ventures easily.
  • Likes to be engaged in a variety of activities simultaneously.
  • Sometimes has difficulty in finalising a project or assignment on his own.
  • Is often disorderly. 


It is important to keep in mind that no person has preferences only in one hemisphere. It is therefore important to understand your child’s thinking preferences (in the dominant as well as in the non-dominant hemisphere)

It will greatly assist you as parent and teacher to gain insights into the WHAT, HOW, WHO and WHY of your child’s behaviour. It will give you the opportunity at a very early stage to create a whole brain environment for your child and to understand what WHOLE BRAIN DISCIPLINE, COMMUNICATION, ACTIVITIES, RELATIONSHIPS and a WHOLE BRAIN LIFE is all about. Establishing a WHOLE BRAIN COMMUNITY will allow the child to make meaningful choices; will emphasise the importance of order and routine but also of creativity and flexibility.

Toddlers and young children change and grow daily and so do their thinking preferences. Therefore, it is not advisable, at this early stage, to make career projections. Rather focus on the development and stimulation of the whole brain of the child --- the rewards will be plentiful.


The 4 Quadrant Profiles

The NBI® profile is a 30 or 15-question diagnostic survey that indicates your personal thinking preferences, skills or styles.

Every response that participants choose is current, relevant and topical. They are making a choice around their preferences or skills as they are today!

It is essential to understand your preferences before deciding to change, to shift paradigms or to develop particular skills.





It is therefore a revolutionary battery of instruments that strives to develop whole-brain thinking in individuals. It will help you develop strategies to sustain creativity and positive thinking in your personal and professional life. You will also be able to identify the essence of your problems and apply creative solutions immediately.

It adds value and insight to:

Personal development

Personal and family relationships

Team Building Strategies

Creativity and Leadership

Conflict Control and Resolution

New Employee Selection

Employee Retention

Trainers, consultants, human resource professionals, executive coaches, psychologists, businesspeople, students and parents from all walks of life use the NBI® products and services to take the guesswork out of personal and professional growth.

Paul Torrance said: “Do the things you love doing and can do well.” We all have the ability to do certain things well (our clever areas) and once we know what our thinking preferences are and we can combine our clever and our preferences, we become what we’re supposed to be.

The 8 dimensions profile

One thing that may have intrigued you while considering your own brain profile is the fact that, although you may be strong in a certain quadrant, you do not seem to have equally strong preferences for all the processes associated with that quadrant. In fact, you may even find that you have rather low or average preferences for some of those processes of your so-called strong quadrant.

Our latest research has shown why this is the case. Each quadrant has at least two possible divisions, and you may very well be strong in one and low in the other, or of course quite balanced in the two divisions. Therefore we would like to introduce you to the EIGHT DIMENSIONS OF THE BRAIN

The eight dimensions are a revolutionary aspect of the NBI® as they provide greater insight into elements within each of the four quadrants. This allows for a more thorough interpretation of an individual’s thinking preferences.

When you have insight into your own brain preferences and how these affect your thinking and behavior, you can move on to specific applications of this knowledge in different areas of your life.


Example 2




You prefer clarity of thinking and concrete information. You prefer to focus on a specific goal or outcome without distractions. This outcome should be defined clearly, should preferably be achievable, and direction and guidelines towards goal should be clear and without confusion. You prefer to weigh pros and cons and to have a clear understanding of consequences. 


You prefer to get to the essence of things you are involved with and therefore like to dig deeper to achieve results. You prefer to connect a figure or measurement to things. You prefer certainty and would therefore calculate, probe, research and examine conditions and circumstances before proceeding. You like hard proof and therefore you prefer to query, question and enquire before starting out.



You prefer circumstances where traditions and well-proven methods and practices are followed and respected. You also prefer circumstances where rules and regulations are in place and where you can work in a methodical and cautious manner. You prefer an environment that is neat, secure and stable and to work with skilled, loyal and trustworthy people. 


You prefer to plan, organise and arrange things. Your approach is orderly, detailed and systematic. You are an implementer and like to put things into action and be involved in the action. You also like to work according to a schedule or “to do” list, to administer and to oversee tasks. Perseverance, effectiveness and usefulness are high priorities.



You are a people’s person and like to work with others in groups or to spend your free time in the company of others. You prefer to be surrounded by people and to be part of gatherings and crowds. You also go out of your way to bring people together, at work or when entertaining. You prefer to share information, to reach consensus and to encourage others to participate in sharing their ideas. You like to network can be outgoing and energetic when in the company of others. 


You prefer to assist, help and reach out to others. You prefer to serve others through a caring, sensitive and unobtrusive attitude and by depending on your intuition. You also like to encourage others to achieve. You place a high priority on a positive, hopeful and caring environment. You may not have many friends, but value the companionship of a few friends and family and would tend to place their needs above your own.



You prefer to connect past and future and to see the vision, even to make forecasts and predictions as far as the future is concerned. While planning and creating your future, you prefer to challenge existing approaches and asking the Why? questions. You find unfamiliar territory, new experiences and uncertainty a challenge. You prefer to consider a variety of possibilities and would not shy away from risk when involved in designing future trends. You like to fill in the gaps between present and future possibilities.


You prefer to think in pictures and to use metaphors and images to describe experiences. You also draw picture, doodle and scribble when listening to someone talking. You often play around with impossible ideas, and like to daydream, fantasise and think beyond the ordinary. You are reflective and meditative, often unsystematic (maybe even chaotic) and would like to do things “your way”. You often discover new insights in unexpected ways and like to nurture “strange” ideas.

Read more articles by Kobus Neethling

The History of Whole Brain Thinking - Kobus Neethling