Right-Left Brain Myth

right brain left brainWe all love the metaphor of right and left brain thinking but I’ve been pointing out for years that it’s just not true. Everyone uses both sides, all the time. Women who speak (no, fill in your own joke here…) are using their left brain, not their right brain. Men who visualize how things could look are using their right brain, not their supposedly-masculine left brain.

Nevertheless, there is widely held belief that people use one side of their brain more than the other, and that this influences their personality traits. For example, left-brained people are said to be linear, logical and detail-oriented, while right-brained people are creative, caring and thoughtful.

We need both sides equally and what really matters for optimum performance is integrated right and left brain function, plus lowered brainwave states. Alpha is especially relaxing and whereas theta is more relaxing still, you could not drive or use computers and machinery while in that state.

Integration of brain function is easily influenced by modern audio equipment, such as binaural beats or isochronic tones.

The right- and left-brain thing is simply a myth. It was started, remember, by Roger Sperry looking at the function of severely damaged brains, with the corpus callosum severed (the bridge between the two brain halves). Sperry got his Nobel prize but this anomaly has nothing to do with how healthy, intact brains actually function.

Now a new study from the University of Utah simply confirms what I have been saying. Brain scans show no evidence that people are predominately right- or left-brained.

For the study, neuroscientists analyzed brain scans from more than 1,000 people, aged 7 to 29, and examined thousands of brain regions for indications that people are more likely to use either the right or left side of the brain, but found no signs that this was the case.

The metaphor and language of so-called right brain thinking and left brain thinking is harmless enough and, in any case, it’s not going to go away. But for the good of your soul, know the truth!

The study was published in the Aug. 14, 2013, online edition of the journal PLoS One.


  1. Doctor, of the people surveyed out of the world’s population, are 90% right handed? The right hand was called dexter, and the left-hand side was sinister (wicked, evil, or causing harm). Likely you’ve heard that the people in charge of the education system in the People’s Republic of China force everyone to write with the right hand. That government may object to President Obama who is left handed. Strangely, we find that 70% if the presidents of the United States also signed documents with the left hand. Those commercial trade agreements, executive orders, etc, insidiously may have destroyed the ‘rights’ of the American population. Since the Trading with the Enemy Act of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, following the suspension of the ‘Gold Standard’ that replaced common Law with the current commercial Legal system, it appears that ‘United States citizens’ are the specific ‘enemy’ of the Administration. When we don’t do what’s right, we have to take what’s left.

    • Good points Donald. I did not know about US presidents signing left hand!!
      It’s important though to state that “handedness” has nothing to do with cognitive function in the r- l-brain sense.
      The dominant motor hemisphere gives no clues to personality type.

  2. Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain scientist who has been in the field for decades.

    Check online for her experiences when she had a stroke. It took her a quite a while to regain her competence in her specialy afterward. Most of her training was gone after the stroke.

    I’ll bet her teacher-mother was of great assistance in her recovery.

    Dr. Taylor’s experience sounds like it is vastly different from what you are saying.

    I am curious, though.

    • Not what I am saying Mary: the science says it too.
      Don’t forget that what some person experiences (or thinks they experienced in a case like this)
      is not necessarily general.
      I am not trying to say that there are no “linear” logical or “whole, feelings-oriented” people
      Of course there are. I’m just saying it doesn’t come from
      thinking on that side!

  3. Thanks for the info…really interesting…as is always eventually proven to be the case when a bigger picture is seen….we are HOLISTIC..not a bag of separate bits n pieces.

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