Two lefties dating
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Scientists aren't exactly sure why some people are left-handed, but they know that genes are responsible about 25% of the time, says Yeo.Left-handedness does tend to run in families, he says, "but noticeably less than other inherited traits, like height or intelligence." In fact, identical twins, who share the same genes, can sometimes have different dominant hands.
However, certain tasks, like the language processing mentioned above, tend to take place in one hemisphere or the other.
This could be the first signs of a left-handed child, say the researchers. In one 2008 Swedish study of moms and their 5-year-old children, women who were depressed or stressed during their pregnancies were more likely to have mixed- or left-handed kids.
In other studies, babies with low birth weight, or born to older mothers, were more likely to be lefties as well.
"Handedness seems to be determined very early on in fetal development, when a lot of other things about your future are being determined as well," says Ronald Yeo, Ph D, professor of psychology at the University of Texas-Austin.
Here's a look at some of the most common facts about being left-handed, and what it might really mean for your health.
But aside from making it tough to cut a straight line with a pair of scissors designed for righties, being a southpaw can also have some subtle effects on our physical and mental health.
The brains and bodies of lefties may operate differently than those of right-handed people (and in mixed-handed people, who may have different dominant hands for different tasks).The research adds to the slowly growing body of work supporting the hypothesis that people who favor their left hand for writing probably have brains that are more conducive to simultaneous, bi-hemisphere processing of information.The ANU researchers set up tests intended specifically to test the speed of information flow between the two sides of the brain.Another area of specialization is that of sensory-data processing: Typically, data picked up on the right side of the body (the right eye, the right ear, etc.) goes to the left hemisphere for processing, and data picked up on the left side goes to the right hemisphere.In the end, the brain essentially combines the processing results from both hemispheres to come up with what we consciously see and hear.(It was also once thought that all left-handed people started out as twins, and that their rightie siblings died in the womb.) Neither of these is true, but left-handedness is about twice as common in twins than in the general population.