Left-brained or right-brained personality: is it true or not?

The two hemispheres or sides of the brain, the left and the right, have slightly different functions. But can one side be dominant and does that affect personality?

Some believe that a person is either left-handed or right-handed, and that determines how they think and behave. In this article, we explore the true and false behind this claim. Read on to learn more about the functions and characteristics of the left and right brains.


A person’s brain activity can vary, depending on what they are doing. The brain is a complex and laborious organ. It is made up of no less than 100 billion neurons or brain cells. It is an organ that consumes a lot of energy: it represents about 2% of a person’s weight, but uses 20% of the body’s energy.

The left and right sides of the brain are connected by a large number of nerve fibers. In a healthy brain, the two sides communicate with each other. However, the two sides do not necessarily have to communicate. If a person suffers an injury that separates the two cerebral hemispheres, they are still able to function relatively normally.

Left-Brain or Right-Brain Belief

According to the “left-brain versus right-brain” belief, everyone has a side of the brain that is dominant and determines their personality, thoughts, and behavior. Since people can be left-handed or right-handed, the idea that people can be left-brained or right-brained is tempting.

It is said that left-brained people are more…

detail and fact oriented
likely to think in words

People with right brains are said to be more…

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free thinkers
able to see the big picture
likely to visualize rather than think in words

What does the research say?

Recent research suggests that the left-brain versus right-brain theory is not correct. One study looked at three-dimensional images of the brains of more than 1,000 people. They measured the activity of the left and right hemispheres, using an MRI scanner. Their results show that a person uses both hemispheres of their brain and there does not appear to be a dominant side.

However, a person’s brain activity differs depending on the task they are performing. For example, a study published in PLoS Biology indicates that the language centers in the brain are found in the left hemisphere, while the right hemisphere specializes in emotions and nonverbal communication. Contributions to this “brain lateralization” research won Roger W. Sperry the Nobel Prize in 1960. However, popular cultural exaggeration of these findings led to the development of beliefs about left-brained and left-brained personalities. right.

Functions and characteristics of each hemisphere

Although people cannot be categorized as left-brain or right-brain, there are some differences in the functions of the left and right hemispheres.

Differences in the functioning of the left and right hemispheres of the brain exist in:


This is the domain of the right brain, both in humans and in non-human primates. Emotions are expressed and recognized in others by the right brain.


The left brain is more active than the right brain in language production. In most people, the two main language areas, called Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area, are located in the left hemisphere.

Sign language

Visual languages ​​are also the domain of the left brain. Deaf people exhibit speech-like brain activityTrusted Source when observing sign language.

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Left-handers and right-handers use the left brain and the right brain differently. For example, a left-handed person uses their right brain for manual tasks and vice versa.
Hand sense is innate and can even be detected when the baby is in the womb. Some babies prefer to suck their left or right thumb as early as 15 weeks.


The two cerebral hemispheres also differ in what they pay attention to. The left side of the brain is more involved in attention to the internal world. The right side is more concerned with paying attention to the outside world. Recent brain imaging studies have shown no difference between men and women in terms of brain lateralization.

Does hemispheric dominance differ between people?

The side of the brain used in each activity is not the same for each person. Which side of the brain is used for certain activities can be influenced by whether a person is left-handed or right-handed. According to one study, up to 99% of right-handed people have language centers in the left side of the brain. But this is also the case for about 70% of left-handed people. Hemispheric dominance varies from person to person and activity. Further research is needed for science to fully understand all the factors that influence this phenomenon.

In summary

The theory that a person is either left-handed or right-handed is not supported by scientific research. Some people may find that this theory matches their abilities. However, they should not rely on it as a scientifically accurate way to understand the brain. The belief in a left-brained or right-brained personality has lasted so long because, in reality, brain activity is not symmetrical and varies from person to person.

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Corballis, MC (2014, January 21). Left brain, right brain: Facts and fantasies. PLoS Biology, 12(1), e1001767

Herculano-Houzel, S. (2009, November 9). The human brain in numbers: A linearly scaled-up primate brain. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 3(31), 1–11

Hickok, G., & Poeppel, D. (2007, May). The cortical organization of speech processing. Natural Reviews Neurosciences, 8(5), 393–402

Lindell, AK (2013, August 8). Continuities in emotion lateralization in human and non-human primates. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 464

Nielsen, JA, Zielinski, B., Ferguson, MA, Lainhart, JE, & Anderson, JS (2013, August 14). An evaluation of the left-brain vs. right-brain hypothesis with resting state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging. PLoS ONE, 8(8), e71275

Petitto, LA, Zatorre, RJ, Gauna, K., Nikelski, EJ, Dostie, D., & Evans, AC (2000, December 5). Speech-like cerebral activity in profoundly deaf people processing signed languages: Implications for the neural basis of human language. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 97(25), 13961–13966

Raichle, ME, & Gusnard, DA (2002, August 6). Learning the brain’s energy budget. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 99(16), 10237–10239

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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