Brain science: What’s the difference between the left and right sides?

People are often quoted as saying that they are ‘right brained’ or ‘left brained’, suggesting that they are either logical thinkers or creative. This is because the brain is divided down the middle into two hemispheres, with each half performing a set of different functions. These two halves are separated by the thick corpus callosum, which is used as a medium to communicate information between them.

The right hemisphere controls the muscles on the left-hand side of the body, whereas the left hemisphere controls the muscles on the right side. Due to this design, any damage to either side of the brain affects the other side of the body. The left is dominant in language, logic and mathematics. Also, if you ever try and access a fact from memory, it’s your left side that’s hard at work.

The right side is the boss of spatial awareness, and helps to recognise faces, comprehend visual imagery and, in general, understand what we are seeing when we see it. Overall, an asymmetric brain is vital for proper function. It allows both sides to become specialised, which avoids conflict and increases its processing capacity.

The brain has two distinctive sides, both of which have important functions


Top 10 Brain Facts

1) If you ever forget where you left your keys, take a deep breath and quickly move your eyes from left to right. Research shows this can help your two brain hemispheres interact with each other more effectively and jog your memory!

2) 18,000 hertz is mere silence to anyone over 18, but amazingly the younger generation can hear this as an audible tone.

3) A leaf is every colour BUT green. It only appears green because it is unable to absorb green light therefore it is reflected back into the environment and eventually into our eyes.

4) Our brains can be deceptive by presenting objects to us in the colour it thinks it should be, using memory, rather than the colour it actually is.

5) If you haven’t yet found that special someone then be on the look-out for the golden ratio. This roughly equates to the proportions of the face being one and a half times as long as it is wide, and this is considered, by the brain, to be the most attractive.

6) Who needs a sat-nav when we each have a built in navigation system powered by the hippocampus in our brains? It creates a detailed mental model of the outside world, from your hallway to the city streets.

7) When your trust is rewarded the hypothalamus region of your brain releases oxytocin – the feel good chemical responsible for regulating your mood. So go out and show off how trustworthy you are!

8) Do you have a warrior or a worrier brain? If we were all warriors it would be a free-for-all and many of us would not survive. If we were all worriers however, we would never have become as successful as we are.

9) Hopeless on the piano? Touch-typing getting you down? Well don’t worry; when your brain has to do unfamiliar tasks with opposite hands it shuts down one hand’s activity in order to succeed. This is called bi-manual interference. The more you practice the less this happens.

10) Naturally when we come into contact with someone we like, we begin to mirror them. When people really ‘get along’ their breathing, voice tempo and eye movements can become in sync.


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Plus, take a look at:

Decode the brain with National Geographic Channel’s Breakthrough series

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