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What are the Functions of the Right Brain?

By D. Waldman
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The functions of the right side of the brain are typically classified as the 'feeling' functions. Right brain functions may include understanding the meaning behind how things work or why they exist, the ability to see the big picture and be a forward-thinker, as well as the capacity for an active imagination. Likewise, the right side of the brain is also believed to be responsible for understanding concepts such as religion and philosophy. The ability to appreciate and/or create music and art is also thought to be based in the right side of the brain.

The left side of the brain can recognize an object by name or title, such as a pen. The right side of the brain, on the other hand, can explain what a pen is used for and how it was developed. The right side of the brain is also responsible for recognizing various symbols and imagery, instead of focusing simply on words. This makes the right side of the brain responsible for understanding conceptual ideas and information.

With regards to communication skills, individuals with a dominant right side of the brain brain often rely on gestures and emotions to convey what they wish to communicate, while left-brain people focus on words and the information contained within them. Likewise, the functions of the right side of the brain are said to include the ability to see beyond details and components in order to view the larger scheme of things. Individuals with predominant right brains are often innovators, looking to a future of possibilities, as opposed to a past full of facts.

The right side of the brain is focused on believing and understanding, making it responsible for comprehension or less-tangible ideas. This side of the brain does not necessarily rely on facts or data to develop comprehension. Instead, it uses beliefs and theories to establish understanding of a thing, also making it the home to a person's imagination.

Right brain functions are also highly centered around creativity. Most musicians and artists rely on emotions and feelings to successfully bring their creations to life. The right side of the brain not only houses the ability to take ideas and feelings and turn them into tangible objects, such as a song or a panting, but it also gives a person the ability to appreciate music and art on a more organic level—this is opposed to the more scientific approach the left brain uses to comprehend these areas. This is also a reason why most people with dominant right brains are said to follow their hearts, as emotions are often an important factor in any judgments or decisions they make.

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Discussion Comments
By Drentel — On Mar 05, 2014

Understanding left brain vs right brain usage helps make sense of why men and women think so differently in many situations. Understanding the functions of each side of the brain makes me more tolerant and accepting of opinions that differ from my own.

By Sporkasia — On Mar 04, 2014

As complex and awe inspiring as the brain is, I am almost as amazed by the researchers who have given us the information to understand this organ as I am by the workings of the organ itself.

Without scientists like Leonardo da Vinci and a long list of others, we would have no idea that the workings of the brain could be divided into left and right brain function; let alone, the thought that we could actually define the individual functions of each side.

By Animandel — On Mar 03, 2014

I have read much of the material regarding how men and women think differently largely based on left brain-right brain usage.

However, I think the idea that reactions of men and women can be easily and accurately defined by which side of their brains they use is so simplistic. I don't know the exact statistics, but even if a greater percentage of men have dominant left brain function and more women have a dominant right brain this doesn't mean we can automatically deduce that women are going to, without deviation, react emotionally to a situation and men are going to react critically.

I agree that the underlying thought pattern of men and women differ in many or most cases, but there are enough exceptions to the pattern to make it a pattern and not a rule.

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