Lifestyle Science & Technology

The origins of left-handedness discovered

Ever since the human genome had been mapped, scientists have found it easier to study the functions of the human body.

Recently, left-handedness has been found to be linked to genetic regions responsible for brain structure. This study, carried out by a team of researchers at the University of Oxford, revealed that there are four genetic regions from the analysis of 400,000 genomes from the UK Biobank.

Three of the regions produce proteins that aid in brain development and structure. These proteins are linked with the cytoskeleton which is enclosed in the white matter tracts running between language-processing regions. Together with the genome database, the researchers also analysed brain scans of about 10,000 participants to come to this conclusion.

“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.” said physician Akira Wiberg.

Though there’s no definite conclusion but left-handers can have more advantage in verbal skills. According to previous researches, the left and right sides of the brain may look similar but have different functions. This was first discovered by psychobiologist and Nobel Prize winner Roger W. Sperry. The left side of the brain was found to be more verbal, logical and organised while the right side is related to arts, feelings and intuition.

This doesn’t mean that left-handers are better because this is just a general observation. The general percentage of right-hander to left-hander is 90-10. From this study, it has been hypothesised that this development of the dominant hand appears in the brain before childbirth.

Professor Dominic Furniss, joint senior author on the study also commented on the myth of left-handedness as being considered evil.

“Throughout history, left-handedness has been considered unlucky, or even malicious. Indeed, this is reflected in the words for left and right in many languages. For example, in English “right” also means correct or proper; in French “gauche” means both left and clumsy.

“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. It is part of the rich tapestry of what makes us human.”

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