You’ve had a brain injury or stroke and certain things in your daily life are affected, but not everything. You know your injury was on the right side of your brain. So, why are you having trouble with actions on the left side of your body? Here’s a quick explanation of which side of the brain is responsible for what types of thoughts, emotions, and actions. You might be surprised!
Your brain is amazingly complex. It allows you to accomplish all kinds of feats every day, from simply picking up an apple off a table, to singing, reading, speaking, understanding or feeling emotions. The human brain is so complex that scientists are still making new discoveries about how it works.
Your brain is divided into two sides, called hemispheres
The right side of your brain controls the left side of your body, and the left side of your brain controls the right side of your body. Interesting, right? The two sides of your brain are similar to one another; for example, the part of your brain that tells your arms and legs to move is the same on the right and left – it just controls different sides of your body.
What’s the difference between the right side and the left side of your brain?
The left side of the brain is concerned with language, number skills, reasoning, scientific skills, spoken language and right-hand control. The left side is the hub of language, where you “assemble” the language (words and sentence structure) you want to communicate. This is not to say that the right side of your brain has no involvement with language; the two sides of your brain work together to perform functions such as understanding, reasoning and organizing language.
We know from patterns of brain damage (for example: stroke, traumatic brain injuries or brain tumors), that when the left side of the brain is damaged in the areas that have been associated with speech production and language comprehension, people present with Aphasia (difficulty comprehending and/or expressing language). These language difficulties are (in almost all situations) not seen if the same damage is done on the right side of the brain. So we know that the left side of the brain is very important for language and understanding. Other functions of the left side of the brain are analytical, logic, and computation skills.
The right side of your brain is in charge of visual awareness, imagination, emotions, spatial abilities, face recognition, music awareness, 3D forms, interpreting social cues, and left-hand control. It performs some math, but only rough estimations and comparisons. The brain’s right side also helps us to comprehend visual imagery and make sense of what we see. It plays a role in language, particularly in interpreting context and a person’s tone, staying on topic in a conversation and organizing your thoughts and ideas.
What if my brain injury or stroke is on the LEFT SIDE of my brain?
Injury to the left side of the brain may result in right-sided weakness and the following communication problems:
- Receptive Language: Problems with understanding spoken or written language (listening and reading)
- Expressive Language: Problems with expressing spoken or written language
- Apraxia of Speech: Problems with programming and coordinating the motor movements for speaking
- Dysarthria: Aspects of the speech system is impacted, which may result in slurred speech or a change in how your voice sounds
- Computation: Problems with number and math skills
- Analyzing: Problems with solving complex problems
(Source: Centre for Neuroskills)
What if my brain injury or stroke is on the RIGHT SIDE of my brain?
Injury to the right side of the brain may result in left sided weakness and the following cognitive and communication problems:
- Attention: Difficulty concentrating on a task or focusing on what is said or seen.
- Left neglect: Problems with attending to things on the left side
- Visual perception: Visual perception deficits including processing any information on the left visual field
- Reasoning and problem solving: Difficulty identifying that there is a problem and generating solutions
- Memory: Difficulty recalling previously learned information and learning new information.
- Social communication: Difficulty interpreting abstract language such as metaphors, making inferences, understanding jokes, and nonverbal cues.
- Organization: Difficulty with arranging information and planning, which is often reflected in communication difficulties, such as trouble telling a story with events in the right order, giving directions, or maintaining a topic during conversation.
- Insight: Difficulty recognizing problems and their impact on daily functioning.
- Orientation: Difficulty recalling the date, time, or place.
Additional resources for understanding the impact of stroke or injury to your brain
- Download our left-brain • right-brain infographic
- Right Hemisphere Brain Damage (American Speech-Language Hearing Association)
- The Truth About the Right Brain – Left Brain Relationship (NPR)
- Stroke & the Brain (Cleveland Clinic)
- The Impact of Injury to the Brain (Brain Injury Association of America)
Constant Therapy is a cognitive & speech therapy app that helps people with brain injury, stroke and aphasia recover key speech and cognitive skills – like memory, math, reading, writing, counting change, and more. Built and tested by a team of top neuroscientists and clinicians at Boston University, Constant Therapy has proven effective in multiple peer-reviewed, published research studies.
Both clinicians and patients can download and use Constant Therapy.