We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Brain Asymmetry?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Brain asymmetry describes the asymmetrical function and structure of the brain in many animals, including humans. There are significant advantages to having an asymmetrical brain, including the ability to handle more complex concepts. It is important to note that brain asymmetry is often simplified or exaggerated for the purpose of roughly describing the concept; speech, for example, is often described as a left brain function, but the right brain also plays a role.

Structurally, the two halves of the human brain are slightly different. These differences develop during gestation and are determined by genetics and the shape of the skull. Some structures are larger or smaller on one half of the brain than the other, and the density and composition of nerve cells can also vary. Specialized structures reflect evolutionary changes and play an important role in human cognition, although the entire mass of the brain is not utilized with complete efficiency; there are vestigial structures that appear underused or unused, for instance.

Functionally, the two halves of the brain tend to focus on different things, with specific areas processing particular types of cognitive tasks ranging from fine motor control to doing math. Injuries to the brain can cause impairments, although in young people, the brain may be able to remap itself, transferring the function to another location to make up for the damaged area. In older people where the brain's functions are firmly mapped out, brain damage can be devastating, as the patient may not be able to recover a given function.

Numerous studies on brain asymmetry provide evidence for how it develops. Neurologists can create detailed maps of brain structure and function with the assistance of medical imaging, as well as examination of human brains. This information is useful in the practice of medicine, so surgeons know which areas of the brain to exercise caution around. People can also identify the location of brain damage by evaluating symptoms, allowing them to quickly narrow down on the source of the problem.

In organisms with wholly symmetrical brains where tasks are split evenly across the two halves of the brain, multitasking is challenging. The organism will have a split focus, rather than being able to perform two tasks at once. Brain asymmetry allows for activities like typing, where someone can watch a screen or a piece of paper to evaluate the output, while moving the fingers across the keyboard. A variety of complex tasks from driving to successfully following a recipe rely on brain asymmetry.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Fa5t3r — On Sep 16, 2013

@pleonasm - That's where we get most of our information about the asymmetric brain from, actually. People who have had brain injuries in different places and what they can and cannot do afterwards.

It's pretty amazing how specific some places in the brain are. There are some really interesting books about music and the human brain, for example, that point out that there are plenty of cases where people have damage to their speech center and cannot talk, but can still sing perfectly well.

By pleonasm — On Sep 16, 2013

@Iluviaporos - I've always kind of thought those tests were a bit silly. I mean, there are people out there who manage to live with half a brain and they can still be both logical and creative.

It's amazing what the brain can do to compensate for massive amounts of damage, actually, and often it rewires itself in strange ways.

By lluviaporos — On Sep 16, 2013

I read an article recently that completely debunked the idea of people being left brained or right brained. There are so many tests and things online that claim to be able to judge which hemisphere of the brain you use the most, and this is supposed to say something about your personality.

But, in reality, there doesn't seem to be any correlation between these personality attributes (like creativity and logic) and which areas of the brain get used for different activities. And, as it says in the article, most activities use both sides of the brain anyway.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.