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J Clin Psychol. 1988 Sep;44(5):630-73.

The right cerebral hemisphere: emotion, music, visual-spatial skills, body-image, dreams, and awareness.

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  • 1Neurobehavioral Center, Santa Clara, California 95050.


Based on a review of numerous studies conducted on normal, neurosurgical and brain-injured individuals, the right cerebral hemisphere appears to be dominant in the perception and identification of environmental and nonverbal sounds; the analysis of geometric and visual space (e.g., depth perception, visual closure); somesthesis, stereognosis, the maintenance of the body image; the production of dreams during REM sleep; the perception of most aspects of musical stimuli; and the comprehension and expression of prosodic, melodic, visual, facial, and verbal emotion. When the right hemisphere is damaged a variety of cognitive abnormalities may result, including hemi-inattention and neglect, prosopagnosia, constructional apraxia, visual-perceptual disturbances, and agnosia for environmental, musical, and emotional sounds. Similarly, a myriad of affective abnormalities may occur, including indifference, depression, hysteria, gross social-emotional disinhibition, florid manic excitement, childishness, euphoria, impulsivity, and abnormal sexual behavior. Patients may become delusional, engage in the production of bizzare confabulations and experience a host of somatic disturbances such as pain and body-perceptual distortions. Based on studies of normal and "split-brain" functioning, it also appears that the right hemisphere maintains a highly developed social-emotional mental system and can independently perceive, recall and act on certain memories and experiences without the aid or active reflective participation of the left. This leads to situations in which the right and left halves of the brain sometime act in an uncooperative fashion, which gives rise to inter-manual and intra-psychic conflicts.

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