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On the genetics and measurement of human handedness

Bryden, MP; Roy, EA; McManus, IC; Bulman-Fleming, MB; (1997) On the genetics and measurement of human handedness. Laterality , 2 (3-4) pp. 317-336.

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Abstract

Lateral preferences in humans and other primates may be a key to many important issues in biology and psychology. There is strong evidence that the representation of language functions in the cerebral cortex is different in left-handed (LH) people than in right-handed (RH) people, and an understanding of handedness may lead to valuable clues as to how the brain becomes organised in the way that it does. Although there are clearly cultural effects that influence manual activities, there is nevertheless evidence that human handedness and other lateralities are at least in part genetically determined: compared with two RH parents, one RH and one LH parent are 2-3 times more likely to have an LH child, and two LH parents are 3-4 times more likely to have an LH child. Thus, one might wish to investigate the genetics of laterality with the goal of understanding the biological mechanisms that lead to the preferential use of one hand (or eye or foot). One may also see links between human handedness and footedness and the motor asymmetries found in many nonhuman primate species, and perhaps in lower mammals as well. From this perspective, one might see the study of human laterality as relevant to evolutionary biology. Investigators of both human and nonhuman asymmetries have to grapple with such difficult measurement issues as the relations between preference and performance, and the influences of postural and task demands, and have much to offer each other in the quest for the nature of laterality. Our recent work seems to indicate that the various sensory and motor lateralities may be related, in humans, but not in a simple way. In future work, the challenge will be to identify the relations between the various laterality "profiles" and patterns of functional cerebral organisation.

Type: Article
Title: On the genetics and measurement of human handedness
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > UCL Medical School
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10029504
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