Left-handedness runs in our family. Way back when I had my children, left-handedness carried a stigma. Children were encouraged to “change hands”.
Some were even forced to write right-handed. I’ve always felt the opposite.
I treasure left-handedness as special. Recently researchers have identified four regions in the brain which may play a part in left-handedness. And these could be the reason lefties have superior language skills.
Multitasking comes naturally to people who are left-handed too.
Many are good artists and follow creative careers. At least four of the most popular US presidents were left-handed.
Dr Akira Wiberg, a Medical Research Council fellow at the University of Oxford, who carried out the analysis, says: “We discovered that, in left-handed participants, the language areas of the left and right sides of
the brain communicate with each other in a more coordinated way. Around 90% of people are right-handed, and this has been the case for at least 10,000 years.”
So around one in 10 people are left-handed and for a quarter of those, genes are responsible.
The findings are based on an analysis of the genes of 400,000 participants from the UK Biobank, including 38,332 who were left-handed.
Professor Dominic Furniss, joint senior author on the study, said: “Throughout history, left-handedness has been considered unlucky, or even malicious. Here we have demonstrated that left-handedness is a consequence of the developmental biology of the brain, in part driven by the complex interplay of many genes.”
The exact genes that cause left-handedness haven’t been identified but the new study, published in the journal Brain, linked four genetic traits with left-handedness.
The researchers found the left-handed genetic traits in an area of the brain that joins the regions which deal with language. It would seem lefties, especially girls, lead the way on talking, pronunciation, the ability to express ideas with fluency and acquire a rich vocabulary.
“For the first time in humans, we have been able to establish that left-handedness can actually be seen in the brain,” said Professor Furniss.
And that’s not all. In sports, people who are good at tennis, swimming, baseball, boxing and fencing are often found to be left-handed.
If you’re a leftie and would like to celebrate, International Left Handers Day is August 13.