Left Brain vs. Right Brain: Separating Fact From Fiction

The terms left-brained and right-brained refer to the two hemispheres of the brain's cerebrum. The left hemisphere generally focuses more on speech and language, while the right hemisphere manages creativity and spatial relation (e.g., the ability to focus on a rabbit in a forest without noticing each tree).

Some believe that certain people have certain personality traits or skills because one side of the brain is more dominant. But finding some skills challenging does not mean that one side of the brain is weak. Instead, skills or difficulties have more to do with how the two sides of the brain work together.

This article discusses the differences between the two sides of the brain, common misconceptions, and more.

Back view of two healthcare providers analyzing MRI scan results. The man is pointing at images on monitor screen.

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Left and Right Brain Differences

The two hemispheres of the cerebrum serve different purposes. For example, logic, language, and speech are mostly the jobs of the left side, while creativity, intuition, spatial attention, and association are the jobs of the right side.

The cerebrum is also responsible for muscle function, with the left hemisphere controlling the muscles on the right side of the body and the right hemisphere controlling the muscles on the left.

What Is a Left-Brained Person Like?

Science credits the left hemisphere with strong attention to detail and quantitative thinking. Some believe certain people are more logical and analytical because the left brain is dominant, though that's not necessarily true. For example, children considered gifted in math tend to have right and left hemispheres that work well together as opposed to an exceptionally strong left.

What Are Right-Brained Thinkers Good At?

Right-brained people might think more freely, qualitatively, and intuitively and consider the big picture more often. Creativity and artistic abilities are sometimes credited to right-brain dominance, too.

People who experience damage to the right hemisphere, sometimes caused by stroke, may find it challenging to:

  • Associate with dates, times, and locations
  • Focus or pay attention
  • Make connections between problems and their effects
  • Organize or plan
  • Process jokes or social cues
  • Recognize or solve problems
  • Remember or learn new information
  • See or notice things on their right side

Though it may seem that those functions are processed on the right side of the brain after damage to the right hemisphere, it has more to do with how the two hemispheres are able to work together after brain damage.

Left Brain, Right Brain, Dominance Misconception

The two sides of the brain have different roles but work together to function properly. People who excel at skills associated with one side of the brain or the other actually have a strong connection between the two hemispheres.

Similarly, when people find certain things more challenging, it is not because the side of the brain responsible for those tasks is weaker. Instead, it is because the brain develops differently than it typically might. For example, the right side may perform a role that is typically the responsibility of the left side.

Recent Research

Recent research shows that the right side of the brain develops earlier than the left, leaving the left side more susceptible to environmental influences during development. Research also shows that it is healthy for the left and right hemispheres to develop differently, each with its own unique roles.

Genes and genetic mutations play a role in this healthy brain asymmetry and can change in people with autism, schizophrenia, and other physical and mental challenges. Further research is necessary, but it may help treat various health conditions.

How the Brain Works

The brain's primary job is to process information and regulate the body. It receives information from the body through its senses of sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste. It uses that information to decide what to do (consciously or subconsciously) and carries out those actions.

The left and right sides of the brain focus on different roles, but they work together to make the body function.


People who are especially skilled in one area or a certain type of activity are often considered left or right brained. The thought behind this is that one side is stronger than the other, but that's not the case. Instead, each side is more or less responsible for certain roles or areas of focus.

For example, the left side is generally responsible for logic and language, while the right is responsible for creativity and intuition. In reality, both sides work together, and stronger skills result from the two hemispheres working well together.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Which brain is more intelligent? Left or right?

    Neither side of the brain is more or less intelligent than the other. They each focus on different roles, such as creativity or logic. Additionally, they both work together to perform tasks and carry out functions.

  • Which side of the brain controls speech?

    The left side of the brain typically controls speech and language.

  • How do you know if you're left brained or right brained?

    There are personality tests and evaluations to test for right-brain or left-brain dominance. However, these tests do not assess each hemisphere's strengths. Scientific research does not show that one side is dominant over another. People can also practice and hone skills they find challenging.

13 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. American Psychological Association. Right hemisphere.

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  6. Smithsonian Science Education Center. Am I left or right brained?

  7. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Right hemisphere brain damage (RHD).

  8. The University of California San Francisco. Crosswalk between left and right brain is key to language development.

  9. Bisiacchi P, Cainelli E. Structural and functional brain asymmetries in the early phases of life: a scoping reviewBrain Struct Funct. 2022;227(2):479-496. doi:10.1007/s00429-021-02256-1

  10. Sha Z, Schijven D, Carrion-Castillo A, et al. The genetic architecture of structural left–right asymmetry of the human brainNat Hum Behav. 2021;5(9):1226-1239. doi:10.1038/s41562-021-01069-w

  11. National Institutes of Health. How does the brain work?

  12. Society for Neuroscience. The senses — a primer (Part I).

  13. Encyclopedia Britannica. Are there really right-brained and left-brained people?

By Ashley Olivine, Ph.D., MPH
Dr. Ashley Olivine is a health psychologist and public health professional with over a decade of experience serving clients in the clinical setting and private practice. She has also researched a wide variety psychology and public health topics such as the management of health risk factors, chronic illness, maternal and child wellbeing, and child development.