Left Brain Vs. Right Brain: What’s the difference?
The brain is a complex organ that controls every process regulating our body, including thoughts, memories, emotions, temperature, breathing, vision, and various other vital functions and processes. The brain is made up of different units, each of which is responsible for controlling specific processes. It is divided into three main parts: the cerebellum, cerebrum, and brain stem.
The cerebellum, also commonly known as the ‘little brain’, is located at the back of the head and is responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movements of the body, maintaining balance, posture and equilibrium.
The brain stem is the middle region of the brain, which connects the cerebrum to the spinal cord. It is responsible for reflex actions such as sneezing, coughing, swallowing, voluntary movements, and other functions including vision, hearing, blinking, tear production, focusing, balance and facial expressions.
The cerebrum is the largest and topmost part of the brain, which is split into two halves known as the cerebral hemispheres. This is where the terms ‘right brain’ and ‘left brain come into the picture. Although they may appear as mirror images, they are still different.
The interesting fact is that the two parts of the brain communicate with each other through nerve fibres. For instance, your right brain controls the left side of your body, and your left brain controls the right side of the body. Your right brain takes sensory inputs from your left brain and vice versa.
The cerebellum as a whole is responsible for many important functions, including thinking, reasoning, judgment, problem-solving, memories, emotions, initiating and coordinating movements, regulating temperature and other functions related to vision, touch, hearing and other sensations.
The theory behind the left brain and right brain
A theory by a psychobiologist and Nobel Prize winner named Roger W. Sperry, which was first brought into light in the 1960s, suggested that people are either left-brained or right-brained, implying that one side of your brain is more dominant than the other.
According to Sperry’s theory, the right brain is associated with a more creative way of thinking such as:
- Imagination and holistic thinking
- Intuition and daydreaming
- Visualization of feelings
- Expressing emotions
The left brain is associated with more verbal and analytical thinking and may be connected to the following:
- Logical thinking
- Linear thinking
- Critical thinking
- Thinking through words
Does this necessarily mean one side of the brain is more dominant than the other?
Recent theories about the left and right sides of the brain
More recent studies and analyses about the two sides of the brain suggested that although the right and left sides are different, both sides are used regularly and not one single side for a particular activity. It is still true that these two sides consist of specific lobes which have specific functions, but there is no evidence indicating that either side of the brain is stronger than the other.
Right brain and left brain myth
Many people identify themselves as right-brained or left-brained based on their general personality traits, learning styles, and individual preferences. However, the fact is that whether you perform a logical function or a creative function, you still do receive inputs from both sides of the brain. For example, if your left brain works on creating music, your right brain works on your emotional reaction to the music, following the melody and understanding the music rhythms. Although both sides have their own domains of functions, they do not influence personalities, and thus you may not be able to refer to an individual as left-brained or right-brained exactly.
The bottom line
It is important to understand that both sides of the brain work simultaneously and support each other, even though they function differently. Based on studies and research, it seems inaccurate to link your personality traits to any one side of your brain, as neither side of the brain is more dominant than the other.
Dr Praveen Chander
Senior Consultant Neurologist - Department of Neurology
M.B.B.S, M.D, D.M