Why Does Left-Handedness Exist?
I’m left-handed. So are four out of our last five, and five of our last seven, presidents ( exceptions being Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush). In the olden days teachers would hit left-handed students’ hands with rulers to force them to switch. Left-handedness is no longer stigmatized, but not fully understood. Ten percent of children are born this way.
“This is really still mysterious,” said Clyde Francks, the lead author of a 2007 study in which Oxford University researchers identified a genetic variant linked to left-handedness.
Hand asymmetry (whether left or right) is related to brain asymmetry. And that, Dr. Francks said, “is not at all understood; we’re really at the very beginning of understanding what makes the brain asymmetrical and what goes wrong — we don’t understand that process in the normal case.”
Though brain asymmetries exist in our closest primate relatives, there seems to be general consensus that the human brain is more profoundly asymmetric, and that understanding that asymmetry will show us much about who we are and how our brains work.
Left-handedness has been associated with dyslexia and schizophrenia. but it is also associated with certain people who are known for special talents, as NYU’s Dr. Perri Klass, a pediatrician, points out:
So I won’t cite the numbers sometimes quoted about how many architects are left-handed, or how many M.I.T. professors. On the other hand (so to speak), at a moment when we can finally hope for an end to winter, maybe we should celebrate the left-handers whose greatness truly lies in the ways they integrate motor control, strength and the highest kinds of skill and intelligence. Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, Whitey Ford, anyone? C. C. Sabathia, Jon Lester, Cliff Lee?Click here for reuse options!
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