I have always wondered whether I was one of those kids who preferred to use my left hand but was "corrected" and forced to use my right hand instead. My left hand is remarkably capable for a right-hander. A few years ago, when I went to a physical therapist for the first time ever in my life, she first took the strength measurements for both hands. Thanks to her, I now had objective measurements. And before I could editorialize on those numbers, she asked me, "where you left-handed when you were a kid?"
It puzzles me to no end that in our large extended families there are no left-handed folks. How could that be? I suspect that the few who are natural lefties were forced to switch to the right because of the social taboos about the role of the left hand.
We know that left- and right-handedness has a genetic origin. However, geneticists are still trying to pinpoint which bits of DNA are involved, and there may well be up to 40 different genes at play. As things stand, the answer to what determines left or right handedness and why lefties are in the minority remains a resounding “don’t know”.I love such "don't know" answers. Makes life that much more interesting.
Is it my imagination that left-handed batsmen seemed more stylish than the righties? Or, are lefties gauche?
There’s been a long running debate about how being left-handed affects your brain. The right side of the brain controls the left hand, and vice versa. And so being left-handed can have knock-on effects on the way the brain is arranged.Keep in mind the "don't know" aspects. Yes? In that case, you won't be surprised with this: "However, not everyone agrees." Of course not! ;)
“Left-handers are much more variable in the way that their brains are organised,” explains psychologist Chris McManus, from University College London, author of the book Right Hand, Left Hand.
It’s true, she says, that when you look at rare conditions, like Down Syndrome, epilepsy and cerebral palsy, the ratio of left- to right-handers is more like 50:50 rather than 1:10.Did you know that I was also worried as a kid that I had Down Syndrome? It is truly a wonder that I have made it this far despite all kinds of angst as a kid, as a teenager, as a full-fledged adult!
Peter Hepper, from Queen's University in Belfast, has done some wonderful ultrasound studies looking at babies’ movements inside the womb.So, maybe I need to examine photos from my infancy when I might have been caught sucking on my thumb. If it were my left thumb that I was sucking, then one of my life mysteries will be solved. But, of course, such photos do not exist. I will blame my parents for this ;)
He found that nine out of 10 foetuses preferred sucking their right thumb, mirroring the familiar pattern we see in the general population. And when he followed those children up many years later, the babies who were sucking their right thumb in the womb became right-handed, and the ones who preferred their left, stuck with that.