Description: When I was in graduate school years ago, I heard about a study done by Stan Coren, at the University of British Columbia, that looked at professional baseball players (for whom detailed batting statistics indicated where they sat on the dimension of handedness. The study also looked at the retired ball player pension data and found that left-handed ball players did not live quite as long as right-handed player. Now I don’t know about you but for me that is a finding that rather significantly bumped up the importance of understanding handedness – where it comes from, what it involves, and what the design right-handed world design factors are that left-handers contend with and whether we need to do something about it. There is a reference to Stan’s book on the topic in the reference list below but as a start, have a look through the article linked just below which provides an informative overview of aspects of handedness that you may not have thought of.
Source: The New Neuroscience of Left-Handedness, Sebastian Ocklenburg, The Asymmetric Brain, Psychology Today.
Date: August 11, 2019
Image Credit: M.C. Escher, Drawing Hands, www.mcescher.com
There are a lot of questions regarding how handedness is mapped in the brain and how handedness emerges developmentally, especially now that we are much less likely to try and force children to be right-handed. The fact that we tend to think about handedness as categorical when, in fact, it is more of a continuum is also interesting and a research design challenge. Oh, and the idea that dogs and cats have paw preferences is intriguing as well. None of this addresses the questions raised by Stan’s longevity finding though. For that you can start with the references below and dig in further.
Questions for Discussion:
- Why might handedness be related to longevity?
- Identify two of the research finding noted in the linked article that caused you to wonder why is that and speculate about what research we need to do to answer your wonder why questions?
- Why do you think it is that left-handers seem to have advantages on some sports and if that is so, how would you figure out how to train right-handed players so they are less effected by handedness differences?
References (Read Further):
Coren, S. (1993). The left-hander syndrome: The causes and consequences of left-handedness. Vintage. (Book Review — https://www.nytimes.com/1992/01/23/books/books-of-the-times-sinister-aspects-of-left-handedness.html )
Harris, L. J. (1993). Do left-handers die sooner than right-handers? Commentary on Coren and Halpern’s (1991)” Left-handedness: A marker for decreased survival fitness.”. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lauren_Harris/publication/14783340_Do_Left-Handers_Die_Sooner_Than_Right-Handers_Commentary_on_Coren_and_Halpern’s_1991_Left-Handedness_A_Marker_for_Decreased_Survival_Fitness/links/53f629420cf2888a7492f613.pdf
Johnston, D. W., Nicholls, M. E., Shah, M., & Shields, M. A. (2009). Nature’s experiment? Handedness and early childhood development. Demography, 46(2), 281-301. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2831280/?_escaped_fragment_=po=1.72414
Hagemann, N. (2009). The advantage of being left-handed in interactive sports. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 71(7), 1641-1648. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.3758/APP.71.7.1641.pdf
De Kovel, C. G., & Francks, C. (2019). The molecular genetics of hand preference revisited. Scientific reports, 9(1), 5986. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-42515-0
DeLang, M. D., Rouissi, M., Bragazzi, N. L., Chamari, K., & Salamh, P. A. (2019). Soccer Footedness and Between-Limbs Muscle Strength: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International journal of sports physiology and performance, 14(5), 551-562. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mehdi_Rouissi4/publication/328079991_Soccer_Footedness_and_Between-Limbs_Muscle_Strength_Systematic_Review_and_Meta-Analysis/links/5cb23eee92851c8d22e9ac09/Soccer-Footedness-and-Between-Limbs-Muscle-Strength-Systematic-Review-and-Meta-Analysis.pdf
Ocklenburg, S., Isparta, S., Peterburs, J., & Papadatou-Pastou, M. (2019). Paw preferences in cats and dogs: Meta-analysis. Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, 1-31.