BY ELIZABETH MILLARD
Your dominant hand may be more influential than you think. Spoiler: There’s a chance lefties may rule us all.
While only between 10 to 13.5 percent of the U.S. population are left-handed—according to one estimate—prior studies have shown that left-handed people are over-represented among musicians, creative types, and chess players. Now, a new study published in Frontiers in Psychology piles on more evidence that lefties might be smarter than right-handed folk.
In the research, left-handers outperformed others in math when those tasks involved difficult problem solving, such as associating mathematical functions to a given set of data. But when the task wasn’t so demanding—for example, doing simple arithmetic—there was no difference between lefties and righties.
Despite the recent study, there’s still controversy in the scientific field regarding intelligence and dominant hand usage. For instance, one study concluded that left-handed kids slightly under-performed compared to righties in developmental measures.
But there may be certain advantages with drawing on the right side of the brain with more efficiency (That’s the case with left-handers, since the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. Righties rely more on their left side of their brain, which controls the right side of their body.)
For example, the brain’s right side is associated with creativity, intuition, insight, and music awareness. That may be why that evidence exists that so many musicians, artists, and intuitive thinkers are lefties.
Although math is a left-brain function, theoretically giving righties the advantage, the recent study highlighted creative problem solving and spatial reasoning, which are right-brain attributes. So while simple math might be a righty’s domain, the more complicated, thinky stuff might be more the boon of a lefty, the study suggests.
While the jury is still out on the full picture on handedness and intelligence, righties don’t need to concede to lefties just yet. In fact, whatever link may exist, it might not necessarily be a done deal.
In fact, it might be better for righties to “join” lefties, the researchers in the recent study suggest. In their findings, they note that some left-handers have better connections between the two brain hemispheres, which brings superior information processing and, basically, the best of both sides of the brain.
They write, “This opens up the possibility that we could all achieve enhanced connectivity by training ourselves to use both hands.” So get ready for some pretty scratchy handwriting in the meantime.