Anatomy And Physiology

Anatomy Physiology

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You've heard the myths about why lefties are 'not quite right'. But are they true?

Throughout the ages, many aspects of human civilization have been based upon the misconception that lefties are inferior to the right-handed. Tools, scissors, and doors have been fashioned according to the needs of the right-handed person, and most experts agree that only ten percent of the world's population is left-handed.

In the past, Christianity ostracized left-handed people. The Bible describes man standing at the right side of God and the devil on His left. Therefore, in Europe, during the Middle Ages, anyone who happened to be left-handed was considered "touched by the devil" and was avoided at all costs. This is also shown in languages, where the Latin word for "wicked", "evil", or "sinister" also means "left-handed", and the Spanish word for a left-handed person is used as an insult.

This bias has a strong influence on children to this day. Children are encouraged or even forced to use their right hand when writing. According to research done in 2003 by Dr. M. K. Holder, director of the Handedness Research Institute of the University of Indiana, this practice is "prevalent in Britain as well as in many other countries". In China, any unfortunate primary school student caught writing with his left hand is severely punished and obliged to make a tremendous effort in order to switch hands.

There are, however, many advantages about being a lefty, and their current situation is improving. Dr. Holder says there is a higher incidence of left-handers among students "gifted" in the scientific areas. The violin, one of the most commonly-played musical instruments today, was originally designed for lefties. In tennis, coaches have noted that left-handers tend to have better backhands, and at school, left-handed desks have already come into use, helping left-handers to write faster and neater.

Scientists have also discovered that lefties tend to be more creative. This theory is supported by the fact that lefties have a dominant right brain hemisphere, which controls artistic and abstract thought. To prove this, a group of researchers from the Australian National University did an experiment using approximately 100 subjects in April of 2006. They were assessed by their reaction times to white dots moving to the left and right of a fixed cross, as well as on their speed at finding matching letters in both visual fields.

The results were surprising; researchers discovered that the left-handed subjects had quicker responses and were better at using their brains as a whole than the right-handed subjects. In addition, a paper published in an issue of the journal Neuropsychology of that same month revealed that lefties and right-handers had differences in their corpus callosum, a part of the brain made of nerve fibers. The differences in this part allowed faster transfer of information between both halves of the brain, making lefties more efficient when it came to dealing with multiple stimuli.

Many contributors to different areas of human society and education are left-handed too. Famous mathematicians and scientists include Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein. In the area of music and art, there are Ludwig van Beethoven, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Wynton Marsalis, Michelangelo, and Leonardo Da Vinci. Babe Ruth, the great baseball legend, and Steve Young, famous quarterback, were both left-handed. Young was actually the first left-handed quarterback to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Last but not least, Charlie Chaplin, the slapstick comedian who starred in many silent movies of the early 1900's, was also left-handed.

Therefore, if you happen to be a lefty, you should not believe all the bad rumors about you. Being left-handed can be an advantage in many ways; don't ever put yourself down because of it!


Holder, M. K.. "Famous Left-Handers." Primate Handedness and Brain Lateralization. 2005. 11 May 2007.

Holder, M. K.. "gauche! Left-Handers in Society." Primate Handedness and Brain Lateralization. 2005. 11 May 2007.

Shapiro, Phil. "Being Left Handed." Left Handed Portal. 1995. 11 May 2007.

Unknown. "Left-handers 'think' more quickly." BBC NEWS. 06 Dec 2006. British Broadcasting Corporation. 11 May 2007.

More about this author: Brittany L. Morgan

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