Meta-Analysis Summary: Left brain vs. right brain


Left Brain vs Right Brain Meta-AnalysisThe left brain vs. right brain theory suggests that people have a dominant brain hemisphere, and that the dominant hemisphere influences one's learning and personality. Specifically, left brain dominant people are more logical and right brain dominant people are more creative. The theory stems from an overexertion of the lateralization of the brain -- each hemisphere has specific cognitive processes (Lilienfeld, Lynn, Ruscio, & Beyerstein, 2010). Searching online, one is able to find thousands quizzes that help determine which side of the brain is dominant; additionally, there are books, study aids, and curricula that are specific for right brain or left brain dominant learners. A recent study (Dekker, Lee, Howard-Jones, & Jolles, 2012) found that 91% of teachers surveyed in the UK believed the left brain right brain theory. However, the left brain right brain theory is incorrect and considered a myth (Alferink & Farmer-Dougan, 2010; Dekker, Lee, Howard-Jones, & Jolles, 2012; Gazzaniga, 1985, 2002; Lilienfeld et al., 2010; Lindell & Kidd, 2011; Willingham, 2010), as one hemisphere is not exclusively associated with specific tasks -- for example, creativity is not limited to the right hemisphere of the brain (Dietrich & Kanso, 2010). Unfortunately, the left brain right brain theory is commonly believed in education, but given the evidence, it should not be used and considered invalid.


  1. The left brain right brain theory should not be used, because it is unsupported and considered a myth.

Additional Reading

Boehm, K. (2012). Left brain, right brain: An outdated argument. Yale Scientific. Retrieved from

Jarrett, C. (2012). Why the left-brain right-brain myth will probably never die. Psychology Today. Retrieved from


Alferink, L. A., & Farmer-Dougan, V. (2010). Brain-(not) based education: Dangers of misunderstanding and misapplication of neuroscience research. Exceptionality18(1), 42-52.

Dekker, S., Lee, N. C., Howard-Jones, P., & Jolles, J. (2012). Neuromyths in education: Prevalence and predictors of misconceptions among teachers. Frontiers in Psychology3(429).

Dietrich, A., & Kanso, R. (2010). A review of EEG, ERP, and neuroimaging studies of creativity and insight. Psychological Bulletin136(5), 822-848.

Gazzaniga, M. S. (1985) The social brain. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Gazzaniga, M. S. (2002). The split brain revisited. Scientific American279(1), 27-321.

Lilienfeld, S. O., Lynn, S. J., Ruscio, J., & Beyerstein, B. L. (2010). Some people are left-brained, others are right-brained.50 great myths of popular psychology: Shattering widespread misconceptions about human behavior (pp. 25-28). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Lindell, A. K., & Kidd, E. (2011). Why right-brain teaching is half-witted: A critique of the misapplication of neuroscience to education. Mind Brain and Education5(3), 121-127. Blackwell Publishing.

Willingham, D. (2010). Left/right brain theory is bunk. The Washington Post. Retrieved from