So, today it’s a shout out to you if you’re one of those people who cannot help doing things a little differently – it’s Left-Handers Day!
Being left-handed is not always easy in a world designed for right-handers. Lefties, who make up about 10% of the world population, are continuously having to either contort themselves or get really innovative, being forced to use all sorts of right-handed gadgets and tools. But then again, that is what makes them feel just that little bit extra special, like being part of an exclusive, secret club.
So why are some people left-handed, some right-handed, and a very small group fully ambidextrous? No one knows for sure, but there are many theories on the matter, including that it may be genetic – a team of researchers from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, believe that they have discovered a gene that influences the chance of being left handed. The gene, called LRRTM1, seems to modify the development of asymmetry in the brain. According to the researchers, the ‘normal’ brain pattern, where the left-hand side of the brain controls speech and language, while the right-hand side controls emotion, is often reversed in left-handers, and LRRTM1 seems to control this development.
The LRRTM1 gene also seems to be associated with a slight increase in certain mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, but that’s another story.
Being a minority group that is said to be, statistically speaking, more intelligent than average, it’s not surprising that left-handers should enjoy collecting theories, statistics and research related to their lefthandedness. No wonder then, that a plethora of websites exist, dedicated to interesting leftie stats and theories.
One of the more interesting theories I’ve come across is that lefties appear to be more easy to scare than the rest of us. Researchers from the Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh exposed a group of volunteers to an eight minute clip from a scary movie (Silence of the Lambs), and then tested them for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to study leader, Dr Carolyn Cloudhary, “The prevalence of post traumatic stress disorder is almost double in left handers compared to right handers (…) It is apparent the two sides of the brain have different roles in PTSD and the right hand-side of the brain seems to be involved in fear. In people who are left handed, the right hand side of their brain is dominant, so it may have something to do with that.”
Hmm, definitely something to remember that the next time you want to play a practical joke on your favourite leftie friend!
To all the left-handers out there – the innovators, the scaredy-cats, the smarty-pants, the insomniacs, the dyslexics, the alcoholics, the multi-taskers, the creatives, the politicians, the magicians – have a great Left-Handers Day!