Left-handed people are better than the righties in this skill, Oxford study reveals

By Sayujya S, Desk Reporter
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Left Handed Person Image
Representational Image

Approximately 10 percent of the population is left-handed and studies have found that it is more common in men than in women.

In ancient times people used to believe that left-handed people were evil or unlucky. The word “sinister” (a sign of bad fortune or evil) is even derived from the Latin word for “left.”
Even in modern times, most often than not lefties struggle in a world which is designed with the convenience of right-handed people in mind.

But here’s some good news for the left handers. A new study conducted at the University of Oxford found that they actually possess superior verbal skills.

The study

Researchers looked at the DNA of 400,000 people in the UK from a volunteer bank. Of those 400,000 people, 38,332 were left-handers. Scientists were able to find the differences in genes between lefties and righties, and that these genetic variants resulted in a difference in brain structure, too.

“It tells us for the first time that handedness has a genetic component,” Gwenaëlle Douaud, joint senior author of the study and a fellow at Oxford’s Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, said.

Scientists then studied brain images from 10,000 people and found right-handed and left-handed people had differences in the parts of the brain associated with language. In left-handed people, “the left and right sides of the brain communicate in a more coordinated way,” Mr. Douaud said. The differences suggest that left-handers have better verbal skills than righties.

“This raises the intriguing possibility for future research that left-handers might have an advantage when it comes to performing verbal tasks, but it must be remembered that these differences were only seen as averages over very large numbers of people and not all left-handers will be similar,” Akira Wiberg, a Medical Research Council fellow at the University of Oxford who worked on the study, said in a release.

More to know

While the findings are fascinating, they’re only just the beginning. Scientists need to do further studies to really learn more. “We need to assess whether this higher coordination of the language areas between the left and right side of the brain in the left-handers actually gives them an advantage at verbal ability. For this, we need to do a study that also has in-depth and detailed verbal-ability testing,” Mr. Douaud added.