I’m a Left – Hander, but that’s OK
Being left-handed always made me feel a bit strange. It makes sense if you take into consideration that 90- 93% (?) of the population are right-handers! To be honest I’m not exactly left-handed, I can say that I’m ambidextrous, as I can do most things with both hands. But what does not being right-handed really mean? Is it dangerous? Should we “cure” the left-handed child? Do left-handers have a shorter life span?
A few decades ago children that preferred their left hand in tasks like writing, were forced to use their right hands by their families or their schools. Thankfully, now they can do whatever they like (I hope so). This may explain the small rise of the left-handers in the society.
There are many questionnaires that try to determine whether a person is left or right handed. Most of them aren’t as accurate as you may think. Many tests are available online. You can try some for fun (like this one), if you’re interested. Here it should be noted that only a few people are exclusively left-handed.
Handedness is important for neuroscientists as it may reflect a difference in the lateralization of certain brain functions, especially language. It’s well known that in most people the brain areas responsible for the perception and the production of language are in the left hemisphere. Specifically, Broca’s area, which is responsible for the speech production, is found on the left frontal lobe and Wernicke’s area, which is responsible for language comprehension, is situated in the posterior, superior temporal gyrus.
That’s the case for the majority of the right handers and for a great number of left handers as studies showed using the WADA test. However, around 30%- 40% of left – handed people use the right hemisphere or both.
Is being a left hander better?
Well, studies (Levy, 1969) suggest that they perform better that right handers in subtests of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) that measure verbal aspects of the intelligence. On the other hand, right handers seem to be more capable in subtests that measure the performance IQ. Levy, tried to explain these findings suggesting that left handers have superior verbal skills, because they use a bigger part of their brain to process language..
Left handed people seem to have an advantage when it comes to sports. Moreover, studies suggest that there is a modest, but significant, increase in the proportion of left-handers and mixed-handers among the musicians when compared with a normal population (Aggleton,Kentridge & Good, 1994). The increased numbers of left handers is also obvious among other artists (Peterson, 1979). Research findings show that left- handed people tend to be more creative, but forgetful.
On the other hand, being a left-handed has some drawbacks. According to the famous study by Harpen & Coren published in Nature in 1988, left-handers have a shorter life span than right-handers. This was attributed to clumsiness, as people whose dominant hand is the left seem to have a significantly increased number of accidents. However, this could also be explained by the way most appliances are built: they’re made for right-handers, so it’s only normal to confuse a left-hander.