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Right or Left?

August 29, 2010 3 comments

Following on from my previous post,  is handedness observed in other animals? As the term itself is HANDedness, it is pretty intuitive that animals are mostly footed and only the other primates and bears use hand to some extent.  The polar bears are rumoured to be left handed but it is just that – a rumour. There is no scientific evidence for the polar bears being lefties. For all other primates other than humans, though they might acquire a liking for a particular hand, they do not have any preference as such. The reason being that the left and right sides of the brains are identically sized. In humans, as most of you must know, one side is bigger than the other. The lefties have their right brain slightly bigger and vice-versa. The right brain is supposed to control verbal skills and left brain is supposed to control all the quant skills and calculations. Thus, lefties are believed to be more artistic and righties more mathematical.

There is another category – ambidextrous people. By definition, they are people who can do any activity with both hands with equal ease. There are very few people who are ambidextrous in the true sense. But some do become ambidextrous – knowingly or inknowingly. For the record, three of my close friends have been non-right handed. Only one of them is lefty in the full sense. The other two eat/write with the right hand and throw/bowl etc with the left hand. Probably, at a young age, they started writing with the right hand because their teachers/parents told them that is the right way. Thus they are neither lefties nor righties not even ambidextrous – currently and are more of cross-dominant i.e. they have one hand assigned for each task. So how do you determine whether a person is a lefty or a righty in a flash? Throw something at him? No!!He would catch it with the hand nearest to him!!. Make him throw something, the action should be instantaneous and he should not be given enough time to decide which hand to use – he will definitely use his dominant hand to throw.

For a long time, the handedness was believed not to follow Mendel’s genetic rules. Mendel’s rule basically could give an idea what traits a child would have depending on his parent’s traits. For e.g. Mendel’s rules could determine what would be the color of the eyes of a child whose one parent is brown eyed and the other blue eyed. But in this case, two righty parents could have a lefty kid and two lefty parents could have a righty kid. But as late as 2007, a new gene has been discovered – LRRTM1. This gene determines the asymmetry in the brain size and in a way determines handedness.

Developing motor skills in your non-dominant hand is not very difficult and humans can learn it with enough practice. Lefties do it usually because they are forced to do it one way or the other Righties don’t usually do it but can take a shot at it. Yours truly (me, the blog writer) has learnt the same and achieved some success. What I have realized is you can do most routine actions – like throwing with left hand and with lots of practice, doing it in a rhythmic way, you can even take aim and hit the target pretty accurately. The above was an example of an action where you needed more of force/strength and less of dexterity in terms of the usage of fingers. Fingers are used the most while writing. So writing with left hand is difficult – but how difficult? I pretty much write decently with the left hand as well. My handwriting with my right hand is nothing to write home about and so the left hand is not doing very badly at that. Then which are the actions which are most difficult – the ones which need both dexterity and force – brushing teeth. It’s very difficult to reach the inner parts of your mouth from various angles that too with the right force so as to clean your teeth.

As they say- it’s all in the mind (literally too). There is nothing in this world which man can’t learn by practice. Thus, I am reiterating the well known proverb – practice makes a man perfect!!!!

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