Right Brained, Left Brained: Is It True?

Jul 1, 2012 By Trisha, Young Editor
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Have you ever been told that you are spontaneous, creative, emotional and unpredictable? Or that you are a logical, critical-thinking, rational sort of person? 

Apparently, there exists such a thing as ‘lateralization’ of the brain: that is, its division into two sides, or, to quote the scientific term, cerebral hemispheres. These hemispheres are commonly known as the ‘right’ and ‘left’ sides of the brain. In fact, they were present in mankind as far back as during the time of early man – this discovery came about around 150 years ago. It even manifests in most mammals and primates!

As scientists did more and more research on the structure of the brain, two things became extremely clear: one, that these two parts performed vastly different but equally important functions; and two, that in every person, one side was dominant over the other.

Are Right Handed And Right Brained The Same?

Reading about this dominance caused me, in turn, to connect it to the manner in which every person is either right or left-handed. Could it be possible that right-handed people were ‘right-brained,’ and vice-versa? Wrong. For the most part, right-handed people tend to be left-brained. In contrast, though, only a few left-handed people are right-brained.

The distribution of brain dominance amongst this group is more evenly spread, with some of them being left-brained, some right-brained, and some others whole-brained, which is when both sides of the brain are almost equally dominant. However, far more important than this possible hand-brain correlation is the question that asks, ‘What exactly do these cerebral hemispheres do? What are their individual functions?’

The Two Sides Of The Brain

Well, in general, the left side of the brain is specialized for processing language and producing speech. It aids in processing information, one piece at a time, and in focusing one’s attention. It also helps to inhibit, or limit, negative emotions. In comparison, the right side of the brain specializes in processing many pieces of information simultaneously. It does not help in focusing so much so as multi-tasking. It is also used to express intense feelings. As a result, feelings such as fear manifest more strongly on the left side of one’s face.

These distinctions were first noticed – and are most noticeable -- when dealing with brain injuries. All the way back in 1836, it was noted by a French physician named Marc Dax that patients who suffered from injuries such as tumors and paralysis on the right side of their bodies—and therefore the left side of their brains-- were likely to lose control of their capacity to speak. On the other hand, injuries to the right hemisphere of one’s brain could cause withdrawn social and emotional tendencies.

So you see, it’s essential that both sides of the brain work together to ensure that your body is functioning in the way that it is meant to. Are you right or left brained? Take the quiz here and find out. As it turns out I am nearly whole-brained, with a slight dominance of my right hemisphere.

[Editor: We had done a similar diagnostic quiz in our blog a few months back here]