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The Left-Brain Right-Brain Halves: And how they work together

Is brain lateralization a myth? Is it true that the right brain is the creative brain whereas the left brain is the analytical brain? The answer might not be so simplistic. Let’s delve a bit deeper into the facts.

1. The left hemisphere controls the right side of the body; the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body

Since roughly 90% of the world's population is right-handed, that means that in roughly 90% of the population, the left hemisphere is controlling important movements such as handwriting, eating, and maneuvering a computer mouse.

2. The left hemisphere is sequential; the right hemisphere is simultaneous.

Take reading, for example, it needs us to sequentially decode every word in order to understand the sentence. This is a task that the left brain excels at. Other verbal tasks such as talking and writing are also the left brain’s forte.

The right brain, however, is specialized in seeing many things at once: in seeing all the parts of a geometric shape and grasping its form, or in seeing all the elements of a situation and understanding what they mean.

Ever wondered how a toddler can understand expressions so well? That’s their dominant right brain in action!

Think of the sequential/simultaneous difference like this: the right hemisphere is the picture; the left hemisphere is the thousand words.

3. The left hemisphere specializes in text; the right hemisphere specializes in context.

It’s true that language originates in the left hemisphere. But the right hemisphere doesn’t cede full responsibility to the left. Instead, the two sides carry out complementary functions.

The right brain comprehends the emotions behind language. To elaborate, the left hemisphere handles what is said; the right hemisphere focuses on how it’s said-the nonverbal, often emotional cues delivered through gaze, facial expression, and intonation.

For example, many studies have shown that the right hemisphere is responsible for our ability to comprehend metaphors. If someone tells you that they have a heart the size of Montana-the left brain takes it literally. That’s when the right brain jumps in and elaborates that the person doesn’t have a heart condition, but is instead a kind and loving person.

4. The left hemisphere analyzes the details; the right hemisphere synthesizes the big picture.

In general, the left hemisphere participates in the analysis of information. In contrast, the right hemisphere is specialized for synthesis, it is particularly good at putting isolated elements together to perceive things as a whole.


In essence, the two hemispheres of our brain don't operate as on-off switches-one powering down as the other starts lighting up. Both halves play a role in nearly everything we do. We can say that certain regions of the brain are more active than others when it comes to certain functions, but we can't say those functions are confined to particular areas. Both sides of the brain work together-but they have different specialties.

The left hemisphere handles logic, sequence, literalness and analysis. The right takes care of synthesis, emotional expression, context and the big picture.

The left hemisphere reasons sequentially, excels at analysis, and handles words. The right hemisphere reasons holistically, recognizes patterns and interprets emotions and non-verbal expressions. Human beings are literally of two minds.

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Source: A Whole New Mind(Why Right-Brainers will rule the future) by Daniel Pink

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