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Left and Right Hemispheres

The largest part of the brain is called the cerebrum and it is symmetrically divided down the middle into the left and right hemispheres. Each hemisphere has its own cognitive functions and while it is true that one side may be more dominant than the other, they still work together and this is because they’re connected via the corpus callosum. Interestingly, each hemisphere controls the opposite side of the body! You’ll learn more about this below.

Functions of the left and right hemispheres:

Right Hemisphere

Function: The right hemisphere of the cerebrum is responsible for control of the left side of the body, and is the more artistic and creative side of the brain. The right side of the brain is responsible for:

  • Art awareness
  • Creative thinking
  • Imagination
  • Intuition
  • Insight
  • Holistic thought
  • Musical awareness
  • Interpretation of 3D forms
  • Left-hand control 

Left Hemisphere

Function: The left hemisphere of the brain is responsible for control of the right side of the body, and is the more academic and logical side of the brain. The left side of the brain is responsible for:

  • Analytical thought
  • Logic
  • Language
  • Reasoning
  • Science and math processing
  • Writing ability
  • Numerical skills
  • Right-hand control

Diagram illustrating the Left and Right Hemispheres

You may have heard someone refer to themselves as being right brained or left brained. What does this mean? In popular culture it’s meant to suggest that people with right brain dominance are artistic, creative, have vivid imaginations, and tend to be more aware of their and other’s emotions. On the other side, left brain dominance is more analytical, calculating, logical and have good language skills. 

Recent studies are suggesting that splitting cognitive functions into left and right hemispheres is overly simplistic, however. Where someone might believe that they’re left-brained because they’re good at math, what may be more accurate is that the person is more interested in math and therefore applies themselves and their learning efforts into this subject.

Quick Quiz

See if you can tell what hemisphere is being used in each task!

  1. Drawing a picture of an imaginary castle
  2. Doing your math homework
  3. Daydreaming when you should be studying!
  4. Talking to a friend
  5. Listening to a parent or teacher

Answers: 1. Right, 2. Left, 3. Right, 4. Left, 5. Left