Brain Asymmetry, Functional Aspects

  • Sandra F. Witelson
Part of the Readings from the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience book series (REN)


Functional asymmetry of the two cerebral hemispheres is a major characteristic of human brain organization and cognition. This phenomenon is also termed cerebral dominance, functional or brain lateralization, and hemispheric specialization. These terms all refer to the fact that the right and left hemispheres have different roles in mediating behavior and higher mental processes or cognition. In general terms, speech, language, and praxic (motor planning) skills are dependent on left hemisphere functioning, whereas spatial skills are dependent on right hemisphere processing. Functional asymmetry exists not only in adults, but also in young children and infants and, at least to some extent, in some nonhuman species.


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Further reading

  1. Bradshaw JL, Nettleton NC (1983): Human Cerebral Asymmetry. New Jersey: Prentice-HallGoogle Scholar
  2. Galaburda AM, et al (1978): Human brain: Cytoarchitectonic left-right asymmetries in the temporal speech region. Arch Neurol 35:812–817.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Witelson SF (1977): Anatomic asymmetry in the temporal lobes: Its documentation, phylogenesis and relationship to functional asymmetry. Ann NY Acad Sci 299:328–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Witelson SF (1985): On hemisphere specialization and cerebral plasticity from birth: Mark II In: Hemispheric Function and Collaboration in the Child, Best C, ed. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  5. Witelson SF (1985): The brain connection: The corpus callosum is larger in left-handers. Science 229:665–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra F. Witelson

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