The other day in the maclab while daydreaming my mind wandered off and began to think about potential topics for my blog, scanning my eyes around the room I could’t help to notice how pretty much everyone was right handed. It got me thinking about the potential differences between left and right handers cognitively in addition to their academic performance. It is estimated that 85 percent of individuals are right-handed with the remainder being left handed. In schools left handed pupils are often discriminated against in particular during the ’70s and ’80s, parents often forced their left-handed children to use their right hands. But from looking into the definition of left handed globally it has negative connotations, also lefties often feel out of place in right handed world so often become ambidextrous in order to adapt
Cross culturally the meaning of left is certainly seen as negative. The Latin meaning for left is sinister. In French an individual seen as unskillful is called “gauche” meaning left. In German someone is given the name ‘linkisch’ (meaning ‘leftish’) if they are either weird, odd or even nasty in an antisocial sense. Right, in Dutch is recht but it also means straight, privilege (as in human rights),Link means left, stupid, awkward, but also keen, skilled. The Gaelic (Irish) word for lefthanded is “Ciotach”. It has two imports as well 1) lefthanded and 2) Awkward or difficult. In Welsh left is ‘chwith’, which also implies being strange.
But research suggests that left handedness may not be as negative as the definition suggests. Left-handed individuals are quicker at processing multiple stimuli than righties for example tasks like talking and driving simultaneously. Left handed individuals are more bicerebral. They become faster at tasks because they have to use both sides of the brain more.” Through adapting to a right handed world.
Another area of specialization in left handed people is that of sensory-data processing: Typically, information received on the right side of the body (the right eye, or the right ear, for example.) goes to the left hemisphere for processing, and information received on the left side goes to the right hemisphere. Eventually, the brain combines the processing results from both hemispheres to form what we consciously perceive visually and through our audition.
There is a distinct link between handedness, brain lateralization and anatomy. Lateralization of speech is related to handedness. 95% of righthanders have speech lateralized in the left hemisphere, with only 2% of left-handers exhibiting this (Hellige, 1990). Additionally, Driesen and Raz (1995) established that the corpus callosum was bigger and better connected in left-handers.
Experts also theorize that left-handed people could perform better mentally as they become elderly and general brain processing starts to decrease in speed: with an enhanced ability for one brain hemisphere to quickly back up the tasks of the other, left-handed seniors could retain mental quickness for an extended period of time in comparison to their right-handed counterparts.
Regarding cognitive skills in left handed individuals, the research is mixed. (Eglinton and Annett, 1994) discovered a “small but reliable increase” of dyslexia among left handed individuals (Eglinton and Annett, 1994). Certain studies have discovered average performance in high school is lower for left-handed students (for example, Williams, 1987), while additional studies have discovered conflicting evidence for example Faurie, Vianey-Liaud, and Raymond (2006) found handedness to be positively correlated with school achievement and leadership skills for boys, while the correlation was negative for girls. Typically, studies show discrepancies in cognitive skills that are in favour of right-handed individuals (Hardyck and Petrinovich, 1977; Porac and Coren, 1981). But again there is research to prove otherwise Benbow (1986) established that gifted youths were two times as likely to be left-handed than individuals in the control group. Geschwind and Galaburda (1987, p. 98) determined that “non-righthanded populations are over-represented in all populations with high talent” (McManus and Bryden, 1991).
In addition it has been put forward that discrepancies may be due to cognitive styles rather than cognitive abilities. Coren (1995) approximates that the link between handedness and two forms of thinking- convergent (“a fairly focused application of existing knowledge and rules to the task of isolating a single correct answer”) and divergent (“moves outward from conventional knowledge into unexplored association”). Divergent thinking is proved to be positively associated with the extent of left-handedness, but just for males.
Lastly left handed individuals may not only fair better cognitively but once they have received their education or relevant qualification they may earn more. A noteworthy increase in earnings for left-handed men with high levels of education was discovered. This positive wage effect is strongest among those who have lower than average earnings relative to those of similar high education. Coren (1995) discovered that “divergent thinking” is more customary with male left-handed individuals. If it is this differential cognitive style that is the source of higher earnings for University educated left-handed men, it would justify why it is not found in women.