On a Big Bang Theory episode (sec 56) Leonard is talking over the phone and everyone wonders who's the person on the other side, afterward Sheldon claims:

This should be fairly easy to deduce. He’s holding the phone to his left ear. Ears do not cross hemispheres, so he’s using the analytical rather than the emotional side of the brain, suggesting that he has no personal relationship with the caller.

Is there any correlation between the ear you choose to hold the phone and the person on the other side of the line?

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    pretty sure this is false as iirc the entire theory that our brain does certain tasks in one hemisphere vs another is no longer valid
    – Ryathal
    Jun 20, 2012 at 15:38
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    Even if right/left hemisphere stuff is true, humans learned to listen with both ears, so it doesn't seem plausible that an ear-hemisphere connection as claimed could exist.
    – Flimzy
    Jun 20, 2012 at 16:49
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    There is something called "Right Ear Advantage" (right ear advantage for verbal communication); Science Daily article: Need Something? Talk To My Right Ear
    – Oliver_C
    Jun 20, 2012 at 17:30
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    This reminds me of a long-ago supervisor of mine, who, unconsciously, would pick up the phone with her right-hand, and bring to her right ear, after some time transfer it to her left hand and left ear, and then hang-up with her left hand. She couldn't work out why, every month or so, she would need to unwind the handset cable to undo all the tangles.
    – Oddthinking
    Jun 22, 2012 at 13:07
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    Anecdotally, yes, but not for the stated reason: if it's a social phone call, I'll hold the phone to my right ear because that uses my dominant hand, while if it's a business call, I'll hold the phone to my left ear to leave my dominant hand free for taking notes.
    – Mark
    Dec 9, 2014 at 7:16

2 Answers 2


"Ears do not cross hemispheres"

That's obviously wrong. Hearing, from both ears, is first processed by one of the parts of brainstem — mesencephalon (aka midbrain). On higher level it's processed by primary auditory cortex.

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    how's that "obvious" ?
    – isJustMe
    Jun 22, 2012 at 13:15
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    Maybe it's not obvious, but it's true. All my auditory experiments show bilateral brain activation in every single subject. It's texbook knowledge. This texbook mentions it (only in the book, not on the website). In fact, the contralateral hemisphere gives stronger activation than the ipsilateral one, so hearing sounds through the left ear would give more auditory activity in the right hemisphere (for simple sounds; for words it will more likely be the left one, but that's independent of the ear).
    – Ana
    Jun 22, 2012 at 13:26
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    @Ana can you post that as answer please?
    – isJustMe
    Jun 22, 2012 at 14:50
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    I prefer not to, because it doesn't really answer the question. There still might be a correlation between the preferred ear and person talked to. I find it entirely unlikely, of course.
    – Ana
    Jun 22, 2012 at 17:42
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    Vartec could you expand on your answer please? The left brain vs right brain thing always brings out my skeptic radar pings. Jun 27, 2012 at 12:32

Ears cross hemispheres.


How you interpret the conversation, based on how well you hear it and which hemisphere is first to have contact it, may be affected.

There is currently research based on how people hold their cellphones based on left or right brain dominance: http://www.henryford.com/body.cfm?id=46335&action=detail&ref=1540

But someone should research whether people are more emotionally responsive, or rationally biased based on left or right ear cell-phone conversations.

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