left brain right brain

Neuroscientists and psychologists all around the world have put great effort into investigating the functions and differences of the left and right brain.

The existence of differences between left brain and right brain have been proven by many studies. Especially valuable are the observations that have been made on brain injuries.

In this article, you will learn everything about the left brain vs. right brain, including their functions and characteristics.

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Right brain and left brain functions

Based on dozens of surveys, scientists have made a list of features that are typical for each of the two hemispheres.

To show you these left and right brain traits, we’ve developed a detailed infographic that you can find at the bottom of this page. It will also tell you about some of the best right brain and left brain exercises.

First, let’s list some everyday skills and connect them to the hemispheres responsible for them:

Left brain: Right brain:
Logic Emotions
Reasoning Intuition
Writing Music
Calculation Art
Criticism Creativity
Language Imagination

However, in everyday life, we use both hemispheres equally.

How do we know?

Neuroscientists have been studying brain injuries for many years. We know that if the left hemisphere is damaged, it leads to problems with speaking, understanding words, and maintaining coordination. When the right hemisphere of the brain is damaged, the patient has difficulties with visual perception, impulsiveness, and slow learning.

Want to know even more?

Take a look at these descriptions of your brain hemispheres’ functions.

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What does the left side of the brain control?

This question continues to interest hundreds of scientists, and there are still not enough pieces of evidence to determine the exact functions of this side of the brain.

But the facts we know are still interesting!

Using the left side of the brain, we are able to accomplish hundreds of operations. First of all, we should mention various language skills like forming words, understanding phrases, and constructing sentences.

Almost every action connected with language—both spoken and written—is a function of the left side of the brain. For example, writing is a typical left brain trait.

Did you know that the left brain controls the right side of the body?

It’s true! And even left-handed people have been proven to use the left hemisphere when they write.

When discussing the left brain vs. right brain, it’s important to talk about logic and analytical thinking.

Analytical thinking is a mental process that starts when you investigate some problem by breaking it down into smaller issues. By doing so, you start to develop solutions not by means of intuition but by  formulating criticism, gathering and evaluating information, and taking a logical approach.

Typical left brain questions are:

How can I solve this problem? What evidence can be used? How should I break down this complex issue into manageable pieces?

Want to know more?

Plus, when you make any calculation, even the easiest ones, you are relying on your analytical left brain. Every math skill—whether it’s addition, subtraction, or division—depends on the left brain’s work.

Try to remember how old your best friend is. Did you get it right? Congratulations, you’re a great friend! But even more—you’ve just activated your left brain thinking process.

When you retrieve facts, statistics, or other information from memory, it’s the left side of brain that’s working.

So let’s sum things up. The left hemisphere is the math side of the brain. It is responsible for calculations, logic, reasoning, puzzle solving, spoken language, writing, and criticism.

But what about the other side?

Read on to find out who’s the winner in the right vs. left brain game!

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What does the right side of the brain control?

Right brain activities are diverse and just as significant for everyday living as those we mentioned in the previous section.

One of the most important right brain functions is visualization. People whose right side of the brain is damaged often have trouble evaluating the distance between objects—some seem to be far away when they’re actually near and vice versa.

This is how much our vision of reality relies on the right hemisphere. With its help, we can understand what we see—including every object, its traits, and distance from it to any other object in the room.

Without the hard work of the right side of your brain, you couldn’t even tell your mom from your best friend.

Why?

Because face recognition capability also lies in the right brain.

If you’re looking for creativity, the left brain isn’t the right choice—it’s the right brain that will be there to help. Your right brain controls creativity and imagination, including any task that is deeply connected with visual perception. Whenever you make up stories or imagine new characters to draw, the right side of the brain starts to work.

You may be thinking—that’s all? Can the creative side of your brain do math or anything?

Actually, it can!

left-brain-vs-right-brain-estimations

Though calculations aren’t a regular activity of this hemisphere, it does make great estimations and comparisons. But it’s up to you to improve these skills.

When it comes to language, the right and left brain make an excellent pair. While most of our written language functions depend on the left side of the brain, the right hemisphere makes our spoken language so informative and beautiful.

Interested in knowing why?

Here’s the answer: the right hemisphere helps us recognize intonation, tone, and pitch. It also helps us understand metaphors and idioms. That’s why people with a damaged right side of brain have difficulty understanding figures of speech.

But now let’s talk about intuition—it’s also a part of right brain processing. But do you know what exactly intuition is?

Intuition is the ability to make decisions instinctively without reasoning or thinking. It may seem like a useless skill for a logical person, but think how much you have to use intuition on an everyday basis.

Every time you need to make a rapid decision or get used to new circumstances, it’s intuition that helps. It’s the right brain hemisphere’s responsibility to not leave you numb in an unexpected situation but to make decisions and help you adapt to new circumstances.

So, what are the best words to describe the right brain? Artistic, creative, emotional, and holistic.

Now everything is clear, right? Each hemisphere has its own set of important responsibilities.

But one question still hasn’t been answered:

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Which hemisphere is more important: left brain VS right brain

You probably clicked on this article to find out more about brain dominance theory.

It’s a very a popular thought today—that the differences between right and left brain are so essential that you have one dominant brain that influences your personality.

In reality, though, this is an incorrect belief.

You can’t say that one side is more important than the other. The characteristics and activities of both the left and right brain are essential to human life. Any disorder in either the right or left hemisphere leads to significant trouble with coordination, thinking, or socializing.

That shows us that every function of each side of the brain is unique and valuable.

Both hemispheres work equally—even when you’re accomplishing a typical left brain function, you’re using your right hemisphere simultaneously and vice versa.

left-brain-vs-right-brain-quiz

What about the right brain vs. left brain quiz?

You’ve probably heard about left brained vs. right brained people—this is a popular theory that allows you to determine your type of thinking. It is said that someone with a dominant left side of the brain has better analytical, logical, and problem-solving skills than creative, artistic, and emotional right-brained people.

Have you ever asked, “What side of your brain do you use?” Well, there are lots of left brain vs. right brain tests—by taking them, you can easily find out whether you’re a logical or artistic person. Just answer some simple questions like: “Do you easily remember names?” or “Do you often make impulsive decisions?” Then the quiz will tell you which side of your brain you rely on most.

Sounds like a lot of fun, right? Take the test with all your friends and then argue about left vs right brain to try and uncover which one is the best.

But is this just a myth or a stereotype? Can you be left and right brained?

Brain dominance theory is absorbing and enjoyable. And it also allows people to think about stereotypes and labels.

In reality, though, psychology is a more complicated subject.

What does it really mean to be left brain dominant or right brain dominant?

According to popular tests, a right-brained person is an emotional and artistic individual who is great at playing music and visualizing things.

A left brain person, on the other hand, is a logical thinker who makes precise calculations, always wins arguments with strong evidence, and has strong talents in criticism.

The truth is that there are very few people who have the traits of only one of these descriptions. More often, we combine both of them.

Just think—is there a typical “left brain” artist among your friends? Or have you ever met a musician with great analytical skills?

There is no doubt—everyone has specific talents.

But they definitely don’t come from some fundamental aspect of our personalities.

It’s always up to you to decide whether to improve your analytical thinking or learn how to play the guitar—so don’t put yourself into a box!

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Right brain and left brain exercises

Look at this picture and name the colors. Try to answer as quickly as possible!

left-brain-vs-right-brain-colors

Was it difficult?

It probably was—and we can explain why.

This picture shows how the left and right brain can sometimes come into conflict.

Your right brain hemisphere tries to call out the color, while your left side of brain is focused on the words’ meanings.

If you practice a little, this funny task will become much easier.

Actually, practice makes perfect for every skill!

That’s why we have collected some useful right brain and left brain exercises.

You will definitely find them beneficial, so try some of them right now:

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Tips to improve the skills that your left brain controls:

  1. Do puzzles and crosswords.

These are hobbies that your math brain side adores. It is a scientific fact that when we’re working on a solution, electrical and chemical impulses go from neuron to neuron in your left side of the brain.

So, download a word search game on your smartphone or buy a crossword!

Sudoku, puzzles, and math games will keep your left brain hemisphere fit.

  1. Start writing.

Writing has always been considered a beneficial activity for speech, logic, and your brain.

When you write, you activate many left brain processes. In fact, spelling itself is a typical function of the left brain hemisphere.

Moreover, many types of writing include various logical tasks. For example, when you’re working on an essay, you have to develop a clear structure, prove your point of view, evaluate information, and choose evidence.

Careful planning starts the left thinking process.

Next time you get an assignment, you’ll realize that academic writing can be a very useful activity for your mind.

  1. Change your routine.

Taking a logical approach to your routine is a great way to turn boring everyday tasks into a puzzle.

Don’t use the same tools over and over again.

For example, to create an engaging task for your left side of brain, develop a new way to get home from work. Or think about how to change the way you accomplish a normal task.

left-brain-vs-right-brain-coding

  1. Code a web page.

Coding is an analytical task that requires a lot of logical thinking. When we talk about left brain activities, programming apps and coding websites should come to mind.

If you’re far from programming, start by learning HTML, JavaScript, and CSS—these activities aren’t difficult but are still useful.

Moreover, developing websites is an advantageous skill in modern life.

  1. Make calculations.

There are many situations in life when you need to use numbers and make calculations—in a supermarket, at work, when cooking, and many more.

Next time you need to add or multiply something, don’t turn on a calculator.

Instead, make all the calculations in your mind. This will train your left brain hemisphere and improve your math skills.

  1. Use Twitter.

Twitter is an interesting way to present information concisely. The point is to express each thought in 140 characters or less.

Moreover, this is the perfect chance to train your left side of brain every day—just spend less than five minutes on each tweet!

left-brain-vs-right-brain-how-to-improve-your-right-brain

Tips to improve the skills that your right brain controls:

  1. Learn a new dance.

The right side of brain likes new exercises. Dances, fitness training, or yoga stimulate this hemisphere.

Learn some new dancing moves or yoga poses.

This will activate your right side of the brain and make you healthier.

Plus, these activities are a great stress reliever.

  1. Listen to audiobooks or meditation programs.

Visualization makes great training for the right brain.

For example, when you listen to audiobooks, you imagine characters, backgrounds, and scenes.

Meditation also makes us visualize what we hear.

Imagination is a significant part of our lives that can help with both left and right brain learning.

left-brain-vs-right-brain-music

  1. Play music or sing.

Music awareness is one of the right brain functions.

To stimulate the auditory cortex, learn to sing or play a musical instrument.

If you already play an instrument, try to find a new musical hobby like developing electronic tracks or finding a new genre to listen to.

  1. Paint or draw.

Have you ever wanted to create a painting? Or maybe you’ve thought of an interesting plot for a comic strip?

Even when you doodle, the right brain process is activated.

Take a masterclass to express your ideas and get a boost to your creativity.

  1. Find a creative hobby.

Don’t like to play music or paint? No problem!

There are a lot of creative hobbies, and everyone can find an inspiring and relaxing activity to improve their creative side of the brain.

Knitting, wood-carving, crocheting, sewing, making pottery—any of these hobbies can help you develop your right brain. And they are pleasant to spend your evenings on!

  1. Use the non-dominant side of your body.

Left and right brain games are interesting and don’t demand a lot of time.

But there’s a trick to boosting your right brain hemisphere whenever you want—just use the non-dominant side of your body.

Brush your teeth, cook dinner, and lock the door in the morning using your non-dominant hand.

Now you know what the primary right and left brain functions are and how to improve the skills that are connected with each of your brain hemispheres.

To sum things up, look at this infographic on the topic of “Right Brain VS Left Brain”!

Comments (14)

  • Anne Morrison Posted:

    This information is very interesting and accurate.

    • Jack Milgram Posted:

      Thanks for the feedback, Anne! Much appreciated.

  • Laura Johnston Posted:

    Sharp looking post! What a wealth of information. It’s fascinating what our minds can do.

    • Jack Milgram Posted:

      Thanks for the feedback, Laura 🙂 Indeed, the human mind is incredible!

  • Edward Louis Abeyta Posted:

    Well done. This captures the overall essence of the STEAM – Right/Left Brain ecosystem. Bravo Jack!

    • Jack Milgram Posted:

      Thank you so much, Edward!

  • Derek OLPHERT Posted:

    The content of this article is reasonably accurate. However, all diagrams need verbal labels. Also, if the diagram is an abstraction of a three-dimensional form then the view has to be indicated (and whether it is a generalisation or derived from a section).

    To be accurate, the terms ‘left’ and ‘right brain’ should be, left and right hemispheres of the human brain. The role of the eyes as extensions of the brain should not be overlooked nor the spinal cord. However, the most important aspect for inclusion is the massive nerve bundle, the corpus callosum, which joins together and provides for exchange between the two hemispheres – this was omitted.

    As it carries confusing connotations, the term “Art” is better replaced by visual output (that can be varied according to intention, means of transmission, age, degree of creativity …).

    Research indicates that emotions are not lateralised simply to the right hemisphere, rather that the left hemisphere is associated with emotions of ‘approach’ (happiness and anger) and the right with ‘withdrawal’ (sadness).
    Similarly, music is shared across hemispheres with notational aspects and the transmission skills of instruments (other than voice) processed by the left hemisphere but expressive aspects by the right.

    There is no mention of ‘day-dreaming’ as a valuable brain function – this can be tapped for creative ideas.

    Overall, the article omits stating how a knowledge of brain function can apply to education.

    • Jack Milgram Posted:

      Hi, Derek!

      Thank you for stopping by and writing such profound feedback. I find your thoughts and remarks pretty interesting. I will definitely consider updating my material.

      Thanks again and all the best!

      Cheers.

  • Holly Troy Posted:

    Jack – Nice graphics!

    Writing is of interest to me, and usually when I begin the activity is more meditative, illogical and a form of stream of consciousness play – which I suspect is more right-brained – but then, to edit and review it becomes more left-brained.

    Thanks!

    • Jack Milgram Posted:

      Extremely glad that you liked it. And thanks for taking a moment and writing such great feedback. Much appreciated, Holly! 🙂

  • Dale Taylor Posted:

    While the article is informative about the different tasks performed by each side of the brain, and that both sides of the brain are necessary for human functioning, it goes astray by saying the brain dominance theory is wrong because everyone uses each side of their brain “equally.” Research and frankly common experience shows that is not the case, and people seem to show large individual differences in the degree they are say, analytical vs say, artistic. No shame on either side, of course.

    • Jack Milgram Posted:

      I got your thoughts, Dale. Indeed, brain functions is pretty individual.

      Thank you for the kind words and feedback. I really appreciate you!

  • John Light Posted:

    Nice update on an old concept. I’m writing on this subject myself, and I think you got some old stuff still in there.

    It is unfortunate that I can neither click on the references at the end of the poster, nor cut and paste them.

    • Jack Milgram Posted:

      Hi John,

      Thank you for the feedback!