Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Ambidexterity


Handedness and brain asymmetry are widely regarded as unique to humans, and associated with complementary functions such as a left-brain specialization for language and logic and a right-brain specialization for creativity and intuition. In fact, asymmetries are widespread among animals, and support the gradual evolution of asymmetrical functions such as language and tool use. Handedness and brain asymmetry are inborn and under partial genetic control, although the gene or genes responsible are not well established. Cognitive and emotional difficulties are sometimes associated with departures from the “norm” of right-handedness and left-brain language dominance, more often with the absence of these asymmetries than their reversal.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Allele, Human brain, Cognition, Ambidexterity, Lateralization of brain function, Brain asymmetry


Hemispheric lateralization for language production and its relationships with manual preference and manual preference strength were studied in a sample of 297 subjects, including 153 left-handers (LH). A hemispheric functional lateralization index (HFLI) for language was derived from fMRI acquired during a covert sentence generation task as compared with a covert word list recitation. The multimodal HFLI distribution was optimally modeled using a mixture of 3 and 4 Gaussian functions in right-handers (RH) and LH, respectively. Gaussian function parameters helped to define 3 types of language hemispheric lateralization, namely “Typical” (left hemisphere dominance with clear positive HFLI values, 88% of RH, 78% of LH), “Ambilateral” (no dominant hemisphere with HFLI values close to 0, 12% of RH, 15% of LH) and “Strongly-atypical” (right-hemisphere dominance with clear negative HFLI values, 7% of LH). Concordance between dominant hemispheres for hand and for language did not exceed chance level, and most of the association between handedness and language lateralization was explained by the fact that all Strongly-atypical individuals were left-handed. Similarly, most of the relationship between language lateralization and manual preference strength was explained by the fact that Strongly-atypical individuals exhibited a strong preference for their left hand. These results indicate that concordance of hemispheric dominance for hand and for language occurs barely above the chance level, except in a group of rare individuals (less than 1% in the general population) who exhibit strong right hemisphere dominance for both language and their preferred hand. They call for a revisit of models hypothesizing common determinants for handedness and for language dominance.

Concepts: Left-handedness, Handedness, Ambidexterity, Michael Gazzaniga, Roger Wolcott Sperry, Right-handedness, Lateralization of brain function, Popular psychology


Season of birth and hand preference were examined in a sample of 42 (7 males, 35 females) individuals who were identified as schizotypic based on their scores on selected scales of the Chapman Psychosis Proneness Scales (CPPS) and a matched comparison sample of 42 individuals with non-deviant CPPS scores. Presence or absence of schizotypy was analyzed using chi square tests of independence with the presence or absence of each risk factor serving as the independent variable. Further analyses incorporated independent means t tests to examine mean scores on the CPPS with the presence or absence of each risk factor again serving as the independent variable. Results supported the hypothesis that winter/early-spring birth would be associated with psychometric schizotypy, although the results for mixed-handedness fell just short of statistical significance. However, mixed hand preference was associated with higher scores on MagId and PerAb scales of the CPPS, but not the RSA scale, which suggests that mixed laterality is associated with the more cognitive-perceptual aspects of schizotypy. Results are discussed in relation to previous literature and their relevance to the prediction of schizophrenia-related psychosis.

Concepts: Scientific method, Statistics, Psychometrics, Multiple comparisons, Handedness, Ambidexterity, Cross-dominance, Laterality


Study of avian and piscine species has shown that animals with stronger lateralization of the brain are able to perform two tasks presented simultaneously better than can animals with weaker lateralization. We investigated whether this might apply also to primates by testing common marmosets to see whether there is a relationship between the strength of hand preference, as an indicator of strength of brain lateralization, and the ability to carry out two tasks simultaneously. A model predator was introduced into the testing room while the marmoset was foraging. Marmosets with stronger hand preferences detected the ‘predator’ after shorter latency than those with weaker hand preferences. Furthermore, the marmosets with stronger hand preferences produced more mobbing (tsik) vocalizations when they reacted to the predators than did those with weaker hand preferences. There was no such association between hand preference and either latency to respond to the predator or mobbing reaction when the marmosets were not foraging at the time the predator was introduced. Hence, strength of lateralization is associated with the ability to perform foraging and predator detection simultaneously. These results are discussed with reference to the evolution of brain lateralization.

Concepts: Human brain, Neurology, Cerebrum, Common Marmoset, Primate, Ambidexterity, Marmoset, Callitrichidae


The objective of this study was to replicate the association between atypical handedness and psychosis-proneness in a representative sample of adolescents from the general population. It expands previous studies by (1) analyzing a variety of atypical handedness indexes (left, mixed, ambiguous, and inconsistent), (2) measuring comprehensively the multidimensionality of psychosis-proneness, and (3) analyzing the association of different patterns of atypical handedness with nonclinical dimensions of both trait (schizotypy) and sub-clinical symptom (psychotic-like experiences) levels. Seven hundred and twenty-eight adolescents were assessed for handedness by the 12-item self-report Annett Hand Preference Questionnaire and for psychosis-proneness by the O-LIFE and CAPE scales. Writing-hand alone did not detect associations between laterality and psychosis-proneness. Mixed- rather than left-handedness was related to psychosis-proneness, and this was more evident when analyzing subjects with ambiguous handedness exclusively. Analyzing subjects with non-ambiguous handedness exclusively, strong-left handedness was related to psychosis-proneness. The positive dimension showed a stronger association than the negative one with atypical handedness. Results partially support mixed-handedness as a marker of developmental disorders underlying both atypical lateralization and psychosis-proneness. Among various possible mixed-handedness patterns, inconsistent hand use across primary actions, and for the same action across time, seems particularly related to psychosis-proneness and thus requires further exploration.

Concepts: Dimension, Left-handedness, Handedness, Ambidexterity, Right-handedness, Cross-dominance, Laterality


According to the Geschwind-Galaburda theory of cerebral lateralization, high intrauterine testosterone levels delay left brain hemisphere maturation and thus promote left-handedness. Human circulating testosterone levels are higher in the male fetus and also vary with length of photoperiod. Therefore, a higher prevalence of left-handedness, coupled with seasonal anisotropy (i.e., a non-uniform distribution of handedness across birth months or seasons), may be expected among men. Prior studies yielded inconsistent evidence for seasonal anisotropy and suffered from confounding and a number of shortcomings affecting statistical power. This study examined hand preference and associations of handedness with sex, age, and season of birth in independent discovery (n = 7658) and replication (n = 5062) samples from Central Europe with latent class analysis (LCA). We found clear evidence of a surplus of left-handed men born during the period November-January, which is consistent with predictions from the Geschwind-Galaburda theory. Moreover, seasonal anisotropy fully accounted for the higher prevalence of left-handedness among men, relative to women. Implications of these findings with regard to seasonal anisotropy research and handedness assessment and classification are discussed.

Concepts: Left-handedness, Handedness, Ambidexterity, Right-handedness, Lateralization of brain function


It has been suggested that failure to establish cerebral lateralisation may be related to developmental language disorder (DLD). There has been weak support for any link with handedness, but more consistent reports of associations with functional brain lateralisation for language. The consistency of lateralisation across different functions may also be important. We aimed to replicate previous findings of an association between DLD and reduced laterality on a quantitative measure of hand preference (reaching across the midline) and on language laterality assessed using functional transcranial Doppler ultrasound (fTCD).

Concepts: First-order logic, Medical ultrasonography, Functional analysis, Handedness, Ambidexterity, Cross-dominance, Laterality, Footedness


It has been known for many years that hand preference is associated with cerebral lateralisation for language, but the relationship is weak and indirect. It has been suggested that quantitative measures of differential hand skill or reaching preference may provide more valid measures than traditional inventories, but to date these have not been validated against direct measures of cerebral lateralisation. We investigated the associations of three different handedness assessments; 1) a hand preference inventory, 2) a measure of relative hand skill, and 3) performance on a reaching task; with cerebral lateralisation for language function as derived from functional transcranial Doppler ultrasound during a language production task, in a group of 57 typically developing children aged from 6 to 16 years. Significant correlations between cerebral lateralisation for language production and handedness were found for a short version of the inventory and for performance on the reaching task. However, confidence intervals for the correlations overlapped and no one measure emerged as clearly superior to the others. The best handedness measures accounted for only 8-16% of the variance in cerebral lateralisation. These findings indicate that researchers should not rely on handedness as an indicator of cerebral lateralisation for language. They also imply that lateralisation of language and motor functions in the human brain show considerable independence from one another.

Concepts: Brain, Measurement, Human brain, Cerebral cortex, Medical ultrasonography, Normal distribution, Ambidexterity, Lateralization of brain function


There has been a long-standing debate on the complex correlation between the development of human hand preference and brain lateralization. Handedness, used as a proxy for cerebral lateralization, is a topic of considerable importance because of its potential to reveal the mechanisms of the underlying pathophysiology of problems related to brain development or cognitive systems. Twin studies, which represent an important method of research in human genetics, would provide valuable suggestions to the studies on the relationship between lateralization and cognitive systems. Many studies have been performed using twin subjects; however, the results are inconsistent, partly because of sample size, background assumptions, data limits or inaccuracies, incorrect zygosity classification, and/or lack of birth histories. In summary, within the long history and large number of twin studies performed on handedness, a surprisingly large number of controversial findings have been reported, suggesting the complicated nature of this phenotype. In this mini review, the wide variety of twin studies on human handedness performed to date are introduced.

Concepts: Human brain, Ambidexterity, Lateralization of brain function


Commonly displayed functional asymmetries such as hand dominance and hemispheric speech lateralisation are well researched in adults. However there is debate about when such functions become lateralised in the typically developing brain. This study examined whether patterns of speech laterality and hand dominance were related and whether they varied with age in typically developing children. 148 children aged 3-10 years performed an electronic pegboard task to determine hand dominance; a subset of 38 of these children also underwent functional Transcranial Doppler (fTCD) imaging to derive a lateralisation index (LI) for hemispheric activation during speech production using an animation description paradigm. There was no main effect of age in the speech laterality scores, however, younger children showed a greater difference in performance between their hands on the motor task. Furthermore, this between-hand performance difference significantly interacted with direction of speech laterality, with a smaller between-hand difference relating to increased left hemisphere activation. This data shows that both handedness and speech lateralisation appear relatively determined by age 3, but that atypical cerebral lateralisation is linked to greater performance differences in hand skill, irrespective of age. Results are discussed in terms of the common neural systems underpinning handedness and speech lateralisation.

Concepts: Human brain, Research, Hand, Handedness, Ambidexterity, Right-handedness, Lateralization of brain function, Cross-dominance