From Aristotle and Mozart to Marie Curie, Bill Gates and Barack Obama, left-handedness has long been associated with talent and intelligence. A recent study has now once again linked a left-hand preference with increased mathematical skills, which makes left-handed people more likely to be a genius, reports the Indy100.
So, what exactly does ‘hand preference’ mean? Well, it’s more than just which hand you write with; it’s the hand you use most for a range of activities – from waving to catching. For example, if you write with your right hand but wave, shake hands or brush with your left, then you probably, actually, have a left-hand preference.
According to IFL Science, those who have a left-hand preference “on average, [have] a more developed right-brain hemisphere”, which helps when it comes to processing and understanding spatial awareness and mental representations of objects.
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On top of this, left-handers also have a larger corpus callosum – the bundle of nerve cells connecting the two brain hemispheres – which suggests that “left-handers have an enhanced connectivity between the two hemispheres and hence superior information processing”, making them faster at processing information than those with a right-hand preference.
One theory argues that this is due to left-handers living in a world designed for right-handers, which forces them to use both hands – thereby increasing connectivity between the two.
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So how does this make left-handers more likely to be geniuses? IFL Science carried out a series of experiments with various levels of mathematical difficulty on 2,300 people of different ages.
They asked each participant to complete the same questionnaire to assess their hand preference. The results showed that when “doing simple arithmetic, there was no difference between left and right-handers”. However, when it came to difficult problem-solving, left-handers outperformed the others.
The results also found that “extreme right-handers – individuals who said they prefer to use their right hand for all items on the handedness test – under-performed in all the experiments compared to moderate right-handers and left-handers.”
In conclusion, when it comes to demanding and complex mathematics, left-handers have a clear edge. However, the study reminds us that hand preference does not just come down to which hand you write with, but the hand you use most for a range of activities. So, those who are right-handed writers, but have a strong left hand preference for other activities, can have a similar brain structure to extreme left-handers – and vice versa.
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This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK.