Skip to Content

Are introverts left or right brained?

The question of whether introverts are left or right brained is an interesting one. The left and right hemispheres of the brain are said to control different types of thinking – the left brain is more logical and analytical, while the right brain is more creative and intuitive. Some people believe that introverts tend to be more right-brained, relying more on internal intuition than on external data analysis. However, modern neuroscience suggests that such a cut-and-dry separation between left brain and right brain does not actually exist. Both hemispheres work together for all types of thinking. Still, exploring the question of introvert brains can help shed light on the unique thought processes and perspectives of introverts.

What Do We Mean by Left Brain and Right Brain?

The left brain/right brain theory of personality originated in the 1960s, based on research by psychiatrist and neuroscientist Roger Sperry. Sperry studied patients who had undergone split-brain surgery, severing the corpus callosum nerve connections between the two brain hemispheres. From this research, Sperry proposed that:

  • The left hemisphere is more logical, analytical, and objective
  • The right hemisphere is more intuitive, creative, and subjective

According to Sperry, people tend to prefer using one hemisphere over the other, leading to left-brain and right-brain dominant personality types. Left-brain dominant people were characterized as logical, detail-oriented, and analytical. Right-brain dominant people were seen as intuitive, creative, visual, and insightful.

While this left brain/right brain theory of personality has taken hold in popular culture, modern neuroscience has shown that the two hemispheres actually work very closely together. Both sides of the brain contribute to nearly every type of thinking and behavior. However, the general characterizations of left brain vs. right brain processing can still be useful metaphors for different cognitive styles.

Are Introverts Right-Brained? Theories and Stereotypes

Introverts have often been characterized as right-brain dominant. This may stem from common introvert stereotypes, such as being creative, introspective, and intellectual. Qualities often associated with introverts include:

  • Reflective
  • Thoughtful
  • Imaginative
  • Quiet
  • Analytical
  • Insightful

These traits seem to align more closely with right-brain stereotypes. In contrast, qualities like talkative, outgoing, and action-oriented seem more extraverted and left-brained.

Some psychologists, such as Marti Olsen Laney, have explicitly suggested that introverts are more right-brained. Laney wrote that introverts process information subjectively and non-verbally, relying heavily on intuition and feelings. This matches the hypothesized right-brain style.

So while pop culture tends to associate introversion with right-brain dominance, modern neuroscience does not actually support this one-to-one mapping.

What Brain Science Says About Introvert Neurology

Modern brain imaging research gives us some clues about the neurology of introverts. However, it shows that introversion is a complex trait involving the whole brain, not just left or right hemispheres. Some key insights include:

  • Introverts may have more brain activity and blood flow in regions associated with internal thought, such as the frontal and prefrontal cortex. These areas control planning, reasoning, and decision-making.
  • The anterior insular cortex, associated with self-reflection and inner emotion, tends to be larger and more active in introverts.
  • Introverts show more blood flow in the temporoparietal and frontal junction areas, linked to controlled inward attention and reflection.
  • However, activity is bilateral – it occurs in both the left and right hemispheres.

So while introverts may have more going on in brain regions associated with internal reflection, this does not necessarily favor the right hemisphere. Modern neuroscience finds little evidence for complete left-brain or right-brain dominance. The entire brain is involved in nearly every human behavior.

Creativity and Intuition in Introverts

While they may not be purely right-brained, introverts do often excel at creative and intuitive skills often associated with the right brain. For example:

  • Many artists, writers and musicians are introverted, tapping into creative flow states.
  • Introverts enjoy thinking deeply and analytically before acting, showing intuitive reflection.
  • Thoughtful introspection before speaking is an introvert strength, showing insight.
  • Introverts enjoy complex inner worlds of imagination and mental simulation.

However, these strengths come from the interaction of many brain regions. And introverts can also think logically and analytically, traditionally skills linked to the left brain.

Overall, while introverts may subjectively feel more intuitive and creative, this cannot be narrowed down to just the right hemisphere. Introvert neurology is more complex.

Left-Brain Skills and Introverts

While they are stereotyped as right-brained creatives, introverts also utilize many left-brain style skills:

  • Introverts enjoy learning, reading, and intellectual development – activities driven by logic.
  • Many introverts excel at complex logical analysis in fields like science, programming, and investment analysis.
  • Introverts think carefully before making decisions, showing strong systematic reasoning.
  • Introverts tend to be independent thinkers, forming their own logical opinions.
  • When engaging in hobbies, introverts take a mastery approach focused on skill development.

So it would be incorrect to paint introverts solely as right-brained and feeling-driven. Introverts make extensive use of traditionally left-brain skills related to logic, analysis, and objectivity as well.


While popular culture tends to assume that introverts rely primarily on right-brain skills, modern neuroscience finds no evidence for such a cut-and-dry separation. Introverts appear to utilize the entire brain when thinking deeply, reflecting internally, and engaging in creative intuitive tasks.

Introverts do excel at many right-brain associated skills like creativity, insight, imagination and visualization. However, they also utilize many left-brain skills related to logical analysis, reasoning, and objectivity. Introvert neurology reveals a complex integration of the entire brain.

So rather than classifying introverts as left-brained or right-brained, it is more accurate to describe them as whole-brained integrators. Their strength comes from integrating logical analysis and intuition creatively. While introverts may subjectively identify with right-brain traits, their introspective powers draw deeply from both hemispheres.