Published in neurology journal Brain, the researchers used data to analyse the genomes of approximately 400,000 people, just under a tenth of which were left-handed.

Left-handed people are more likely to be better at verbal tasks than those who are right-handed, says a new study. Scientists from the University of Oxford recently investigated the correlation between handedness, language areas of the brain and neuropsychiatric disease.


Published in neurology journal Brain, the researchers used data to analyse the genomes of approximately 400,000 people, just under a tenth of which were left-handed.

While the link between handedness and genetics has been explored in the past, the exact genes which are linked to being left-handed or right-handed have not previously been determined.

Thanks to their large cohort of participants, the researchers were able to identify four genetic regions which they claim are linked to being left-handed.

“Around 90% of people are right-handed, and this has been the case for at least 10,000 years,” said Dr Akira Wiberg, a medical research council fellow at the University of Oxford. “Many researchers have studied the biological basis of handedness, but using large datasets from UK Biobank has allowed us to shed considerably more light on the processes leading to left-handedness.”

Dr Wiberg continued, stating that “in left-handed participants, the language areas of the left and right sides of the brain communicate with each other in a more co-ordinated way”.

“This raises the intriguing possibility for future research that left-handers might have an advantage when it comes to performing verbal tasks,” the medical researcher added.

However, Dr Wiberg added that “not all left-handers will be similar”, as this conclusion was drawn from “averages over very large numbers of people”.

According to the study, the genetic regions associated with being left-handed may be linked to a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, and a higher risk of being diagnosed with schizophrenia.

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