The right cerebrum is the right half of the brain that generally controls the left half of the body. Cerebrum is another word for the whole organ of the brain. A brain is divided into two distinct hemispheres which each have their own specific set of functions. Spatial awareness, body image, facial recognition, and visualization are thought to be the roles of the right cerebrum.
Each half of the brain is connected to the other by the corpus callosum. Different areas of the brain control individual thought processes and functions. It is made up of the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes. Within each area there are further divisions known as gyri and sulci, as well as cortex regions such as the motor cortex, which controls certain muscles.
Researchers first discovered the role of the distinct parts of the brain from the postmortem examination of impaired patients. For example, Paul Broca worked with aphasic patients who had lost the ability to speak after head injuries. Their brains turned out to have damage in a specific region, and Broca deduced that it must be the speech center. That part of the brain is now called Broca's area, and it is in the left cerebrum.
As the result of Broca's and other's experiments, it is believed that the left cerebrum is responsible for language, speech, math, and logical thinking. Further work investigating the nature of the left and right cerebrum was conducted by Roger Sperry in a set of split brain studies. He was able to test each side of the brain in isolation on his patients who had their corpus callosum severed to treat and contain epileptic seizures.
Sperry's study found that patients who only had right brain function could not read words aloud or answer questions by speaking. They could, however, read and select written words for simple relationships and comparisons. This meant the right cerebrum could still control non-verbal language. It was also discovered that the right brain can be responsible for non-controlled language responses and the automatic use of certain words, such as in reaction to something happening suddenly.
The field of brain hemisphere research is still evolving. There is now new indications that while it may be the left cerebrum that primarily controls language in terms of speech, it may actually be the right cerebrum that handles the abstract function of language as series of symbols and images. In all cases, the operation of the brain is dependent on the individuals, and the findings are just general rules that apply to most of the population.