website element

The operation of the dyslexic brain

People with dyslexia process information in their brains differently from the majority of people. They have this in common with those who have AD(H)D, high-giftedness, dyscalculia and PDD-NOS.

They think in a different way. The majority of people think mainly with their brain’s left hemisphere, whereas dyslexics think predominantly with their right hemisphere. This leads to a different kind of thinking and learning style that we call conceptual thinking. This perspective is founded in the theories about picture thinking and we developed it through years of coaching adults with dyslexia. There is growing interest in this perspective worldwide and it has been confirmed by various American research studies.

Thinking predominantly with the right hemisphere

In dyslexics the right hemisphere is dominant for thinking, the processing of information. That means that there exists a strong preference for thinking with the right hemisphere. According to us someone who is dyslexic has a natural weakness in the processing of language, just like other people have difficulty with drawing, music or arithmetic, for example. But those are often less conspicuous in our language orientated society.

What are the functions of the two hemispheres?

operation-of-the-dyslexic-brain-dyslexia-work-rightThe right hemisphere is for example responsible for:

  • our imagination and processing of information visually;
  • rhythm;
  • our intuition;
  • our creativity and ability to deal with new situations;
  • the subconscious;
  • making and seeing connections;
  • analogue skills;
  • seeing the large picture;
  • doing several things at once;
  • scanning and processing information quickly;
  • working from the whole to the parts.

operation-of-the-dyslexic-brain-dyslexia-work-leftThe left hemisphere is for example responsible for:

  • language and auditory processing of information;
  • speech;
  • logical reasoning;
  • the analysis of situations;
  • working systematically;
  • looking at details;
  • digital skills;
  • tackle things step by step;
  • applying routine in daily skills;
  • working from the parts to the whole;
  • dealing with numbers.


How does conceptual thinking arise?

When someone’s thinking is dominant for one of the two hemispheres, the characteristics of that hemisphere ‘determine’ the way information is processed and how learning takes place.

We call dominance of the left hemisphere in thinking linear thinking, whereas we call right hemisphere dominance conceptual thinking. This is also known as picture thinking. Not all conceptual thinkers are dyslexic, but the reverse of this is indeed true. All dyslexics are conceptual thinkers, just like people with dyscalculia, AD(H)D and high-giftedness.

This however does not mean that conceptual thinkers cannot think logically, although their logic can sometimes be different.