Upfront

The terms "left-brained" and "right-brained" have come to refer to personality types in popular culture, with an assumption that people who use the right side of their brains more are more creative, thoughtful and subjective, while those who tap the left side more are more logical, detail-oriented and analytical.

But there's no evidence for this, suggest findings from a two-year study led by University of Utah neuroscientists who conducted analyses of brain imaging (PLOS One, Aug. 14).

The researchers analyzed resting brain scans of 1,011 people ages 7 to 29, measuring their functional lateralization — the specific mental processes taking place in each side of the brain. Turns out, individual differences don't favor one hemisphere or the other, says lead author Jeff Anderson, MD, PhD.

"It's absolutely true that some brain functions occur in one or the other side of the brain," Anderson says. "Language tends to be on the left, attention more on the right. But people don't tend to have a stronger left- or right-sided brain network."

— Amy Novotney