Most of us have seen the looks of the gel ball inside our skull. And most of us have also experienced headaches; sometimes, it hurts on the top, left, right or front, but we rarely experience the pain all over. But it is less often that we grapple with how different sides of our brain differ from each other. How is the left side of our brain different from the right side? What happens when one of the portions gets damaged by accident? Do we work alright after that?

The sides of our brain are called cerebral hemispheres. The left and right sides of the brain are structured in almost similar ways. They both have four lobes. The upper part of this magical box is called the cerebrum. About 90% of the population has language skills in the left hemisphere. Not sure about yours? Various experiments online on Hemispheric Specialisation will help you identify your side.

Split-brain research

A Nobel Prize winner, Roger Sperry, dedicated most of his work to hemisphere specialisation. He was one of the pioneers in highlighting how both sides of the brain specialise in different functioning; the left and right hemispheres are responsible for various activities. How did he find out about this? Roger was determined to find the cure for epilepsy. He had to cut through the thick band of neural fibres in our head, connecting right and left hemispheres. Previously, this procedure worked for animals without any visible signs of side effects. The first humans who had gotten this technique to cure seizures showed relief from epilepsy. However, after tests, it was hinted that now they have two brains in a single human body.

The signals were now being sent only to one side of the brain because there was a legit separation after the non-existence of corpus callosum. Notedly, the sides of our brain are responsible for the opposite sides of the body, i.e., the right hemisphere is responsible for controlling the left side of the body and vice-versa.

So in split-brain patients, if the person is exposed to a picture towards the right side, the message will be sent to the lobes in the left hemisphere. After several studies and experiments in the area, it was identified that the left hemisphere specialises in verbal communication, understanding language, writing, calculating, and a sense of rhythm (mathematical in nature), and sense of time, generally any kind of work requiring analysis. Whereas the right hemisphere is responsible for perceiving spaces, emotions, recognition (faces, patterns), and the ability to express oneself.

From a bird’s eye view, the brain's right hemisphere is responsible for more holistic tasks and processing. In contrast, the brain's left hemisphere is responsible for breaking down things into nuggets and analysing them.

No, that does not imply that only one part of our brain is at work at a given time, but the beauty of it remains that both the hemispheres of our brain gel well together and work in integration to make us perform tasks smoothly. For example, we may recognise a person’s face through the right side of the hemisphere while the left hemisphere helps us remember the person's name.

Therefore, despite our brain having two different sides for better functioning, they still work in unison, unless in the case of split-brain patients.