Left Brain vs. Right Brain: What’s the Difference?

The brain is divided into two halves, the right and left brain. Specific areas are responsible for different functions, but the brain works as a whole.

The human brain is an intricate organ. At approximately 2% of your body weight, it contains about 85–100 billion neurons and trillions of connections. Your brain is the command center for how you think and feel, and what you do.

Your brain is divided into two halves. These two sides look very much alike, but there’s a difference in how they process information. Within each half, particular regions manage certain functions.

There’s a myth that suggests some people are left-brained, while others are right-brained. This myth assumes that a person’s motor, cognitive, and behavioral functions stem from the side of the brain that’s most dominant.

It’s estimated that 68% of the general population in the United States support neuromyths, including this one.

However, despite their contrasting styles, the two halves of your brain are connected by brain fibers and work together.

Keep reading to learn more about the left brain vs. right brain myth, the functions of each side, and tips to keep your brain healthy.

The theory that you’re either left-brained or right-brained suggests that one side of your brain is more dominant.

This theory is based on the fact that the brain’s two hemispheres function differently. This first came to light in the 1960s, thanks to the research of psychobiologist and Nobel Prize winner, Roger W. Sperry.

According to Sperry’s dated research, the left brain and right sides of your brain help you with the following:

This suggests that the left brain is more verbal, analytical, and orderly than the right brain. It’s sometimes called the digital brain because it’s better at things like reading, writing, and computations.

On the other hand, the right brain is more visual, intuitive, and creative.

So, if you’re mostly analytical and methodical in your thinking, the theory suggests you’re left-brained. If you tend to be more creative or artistic, you’re right-brained.

A team of neuroscientists set out to test the left brain vs. right brain hypothesis.

In a 2013 review, they found no proof that this theory is correct. Magnetic resonance imaging of 1,000 people revealed that the human brain doesn’t favor one side over the other, nor are the networks on one side stronger than on the other.

Bundles of nerve fibers tie the two hemispheres together, creating an information highway. The two sides function differently, but they work together and complement each other. You don’t use only one side of your brain at a time.

For example, the left brain has traditionally been associated with handling mathematical equations. However, a 2023 review suggests that the right hemisphere helps with:

  • spatial awareness during complicated calculations
  • understanding numbers that contain zeros
  • representing numbers nonverbally

Similarly, people credit the left brain with language processing. However, the authors of a 2020 review found that the right brain plays a key role in understanding context and non-literal language, such as metaphors and irony. They also suggest that the right brain’s spatial awareness helps us understand and visualize language.

General personality traits, individual preferences, or learning styles don’t translate into the notion that you’re left-brained or right-brained.

Still, certain areas of your brain do have specialties, though how each exact area functions may vary from person to person.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, keeping your brain and body active may have short- and long-term benefits for brain health. Here are some tips to help keep your brain sharp.

  • Thinking exercises: Some brain-thinking exercises may help improve and maintain cognitive function. These may include playing a puzzle, reading, trying a new skill, or playing memory games, among others.
  • Physical activity: A 2022 review suggests that aerobic exercise may help episodic memory among adults ages 55 years and older who have a dementia diagnosis.
  • Diet: Nutrition plays a key role in keeping your brain healthy. Some healthy beverages and foods for your brain may include coffee, whole grains, fresh vegetables, nuts, fatty fish, and poultry.
  • Sleep: According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, sleep is vital for your brain to help neurons communicate with each other, remove toxin buildup, and improve your memory.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also suggests the following tips to help maintain brain health:

What is it like to be right-brained?

Some people say that if you’re right-brained, you’re more creative, artistic, and intuitive. Each side of the brain is responsible for different functions, but research suggests there are no “left-brained” or “right-brained” people. That said, some people are stronger in right- or left-brain functions.

What is the difference between the right and left side of the brain?

The anatomy of the brain is complex. When people think of the left and right sides of the brain, they think of the two hemispheres that make up the cerebrum. The cerebrum controls many functions, such as your senses, vision, memory, cognition, and hearing. The left side of the cerebrum is associated with speech and processing language, while the right is associated with nonverbal memory and spatial awareness.

What is left-brain thinking?

Left-brain thinking refers to people who may be more analytical, calculated, and orderly.

What is right-brain weakness?

According to the American Stroke Association, if the right side of your brain is affected, such as from a stroke, you may experience memory and vision problems, paralysis on the left side of your body, and some behavioral changes.

Whether you work out a complicated algebraic equation or paint an abstract work of art, both sides of your brain actively participate and provide input.

No one is truly left-brained or right-brained, but you can play to your strengths and continue broadening your mental horizons.

A typical, healthy brain is capable of lifelong learning and boundless creativity, especially when it gets fuel from proper nutrition, a dose of physical exercise, and mental stimulation.

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