December 13, 2005

A Left-Hand Turn Around the World


David Wolman traveled around the world to encounter every possible aspect of left-handedness. He visited a Scottish castle built to be defended by left-handed swordsmen, studied palm reading and handwriting analysis, met a man whose left hand was grafted onto his right arm, golfed in Japan with the National Association of Left-Handed Golfers, visited brain researchers, chimpanzees, a satanist, and the town of Left-Hand, West Virginia.

Besides having a lot of fun, Wolman debunked a few myths, verified some surprising facts, and uncovered the latest and most exciting research in the field of handedness. This book is both entertaining and enlightening, and a must-read for anyone with an interest in how our hands - and our brains - work together.

November 28, 2005

Table Manners for Lefties

A Reader wrote:

Do you use your knife and fork like a lefty or a righty? My dad is a lefty and my mum a righty. Neither considered this to be any kind of abnormality or disadvantage so I was encouraged to use my left hand except at the dinner table. I was taught that I was to use a knife in my right hand and a fork in my left simply because this was the correct way to use them. I never had any drama about this as it was put to me in a way that suggested it was just as incorrect to swap as it would be to chew with my mouth open or wipe my mouth on the table cloth. However, they weren't as strict about the spoon and so I used a spoon in my left hand even though it is considered in polite circles correct to use the right (and in the interest of being considered to be "polite company" I have taught myself to use a spoon in the right hand with no difficulty).

I can see merit in this. For instance when I eat out with a group of right handers I don't have the problem of bumping my neighbour which would annoy me as much as it would annoy them. I also don't feel the need to rearrange the cutlery as soon as I sit at a dining table.

I can also see it from the point of view of restrauteurs. Despite the fact that there is an increasing number of lefties in our society we are still the minority. A restaurant could not know whether any diners are left handed so it makes sense to set the table for right handers. It also makes sense, in my opinion, for left handers to conform in this one area as it just makes life easier for everyone - lefties included. To be honest if I'd been allowed to use cutlery as my natural inclination would have been I'd be one unhappy camper by now. I would be so fed up with having to rearrange cutlery and bumping the person next to me, and them bumping me, I would dread eating in any kind of company.

My point is that if I had left handed children this is one area where I would teach them to use their right hand in preference as I thank my parents for teaching me this one thing on which they insisted I swap.

What do others think?

November 13, 2005

Any other uncreative left handers except me?

A Reader wrote:

Most people have this notion that left-handers are more creative and artistic. However, I am a left-hander (or at least I perceive myself as one - doing most stuff with my left) and I am definitely not creative and artistic. I have this gut feeling (after attending some guitar lessons) that I am tone deaf as well. Based on my life experiences and the random tests that I do, I came to a conclusion that I am left brain oriented.

Am I really the odd one out in the minority?

October 4, 2005

Apple Macs are definitely left-hand friendly

A Reader wrote:

I read in the "Research" page under the title "Shopping" that the author of the page was not familiar with Macs. I am a big Mac user, as well as left-handed. Macintosh computers have a one-button mouse shipped with them, unlike the standard two-button mouse with Windows computers. I have been using a Macintosh for the last twelve years, or so, and I am real happy with the left-hand compatibility. Especially now, because my family is sharing an iBook G4, and I am the only left-hander in my family. It is wonderful, because we don't have to change settings to use the same computer. It is one of the few things that actually work for both me and my family without changing something!

Also, I would suggest a Macintosh to any left-handed computer user. And not because I am already a user. I found out something a short-time ago that four out of the five designers of the original Macintosh (the Mac Classic) were left-handed. I am not sure how true that is, but I like how it sounds.

October 2, 2005

switched as a tot

A Reader wrote:

Hello. I'm sure this is a common story on this site. I was switched as a child, from left to right handed at an age when I was just beginning to pick up pen and paper and draw. I play sports as a left handed person, minus ball throwing, and I do many left hand dominated tasks. My question is this: Can you tell me where I can find some evidence (research based) on the web that supports the negative implications of switching? My apologies if this is a redundant question.

August 22, 2005

Left-Handed Chimps

chimpsA three-year study of seventeen wild chimpanzees living in Gombe National Park, Tanzania, found that the majority used their left hands when fishing for termites with sticks. Twelve of the animals used the left hand, four used the right hand, and one was ambiguous. The research was reported by the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta. Some previous studies have also indicated a left-handed preference among chimps using sticks, but some suggested a right-handed preference when cracking nuts.

July 3, 2005

How to Talk

A Reader wrote:

Can anybody help me communicate better with an extremely left brained, analytical supervisor? We cannot seem to understand each other at all. I get very frustrated when he doesn't "get" what I'm trying to say & then, of course, he refuses to talk to me when I'm angry. I only realized yesterday that he hasn't a clue about the lefthanded brain so I'm the one who will have to make communication adjustments & I want to do it right. Does any one have some advice for me?

June 10, 2005


cover Loving Lefties : How to Raise Your Left-Handed Child in a Right-Handed World: Parents of the more than 400,000 lefties born annually in the United States have had no resource that deals seriously with the learning difficulties their children face -- until now. Loving Lefties is the first ever guide to address all the issues pertinent to left-handedness: the biology, the physiology, and the psychological and practical effects of being a left-handed child. An essential aid for parents, teachers, and professionals, it covers the history and mythology of the left-handed brain, and offers sound advice. Filled with resource lists, guidelines, quick tips, answers to frequently asked questions, case studies, and anecdotes, Loving Lefties is the essential guide for raising a happy, healthy southpaw.

cover Lefty: A Handbook for Left-Handed Kids: It's bound on the right!

June 3, 2005

More Right/Left Brain Stuff

cover Handedness and Brain Asymmetry: Brain asymmetry for speech is moderately related to handedness but what are the rules?
Are symmetries for hand and brain associated with characteristics such as intelligence, motor skill, spatial reasoning or skill at sports? The theory proposes that handedness in humans and our non-human primate relations depends on chance but that chance is weighted towards right-handedness in most people by an agent of right-hemisphere disadvantage. It argues for the existence of a single gene for right shift (RS+) that evolved in humans to aid the growth of speech in the left hemisphere of the brain. The Right Shift Theory has possible implications for a wide range of questions about human abilities and disabilities, including verbal and non-verbal intelligence, educational progress and dyslexia, spatial reasoning, sporting skills and mental illness. This will make fascinating reading for students and researchers in psychology and neurology, educationalists, and anyone with a keen interest in why people have different talents and weaknesses.


cover When Opposites Attract: Right Brain/Left Brain Relationships and How to Make Them Work




cover Biological Asymmetry and Handedness: This multidisciplinary book, the first on this topic for twenty years, discusses models for the inheritance of anatomical asymmetry and for the inheritance of human handedness. Morphological asymmetry occurs in most types of living organisms, often with a systematic bias towards either right-handed or left-handed forms. The predominance of L-amino acids can be explained thermodynamically; their characteristics determine secondary structure in proteins but the information is lost at the next stage of protein assembly. Left-right asymmetry in animals arises early in embryogenesis: the mechanism is unknown but examples from a range of organisms—including ciliates, molluscs, Caenorhabditis, Xenopus and mammals—provide several clues.


May 9, 2005

Forcing Rightie to be a Leftie

A Reader wrote:

Does anyone know of any research that shows the effects of forcing a "rightie" to become a "leftie", at least for sports? I didn't see this abuse happening to my oldest son by his father until it was too late - he's 14 now. He does all sports left-handed; everything else right-handed. He was trained to be a leftie as a toddler because of baseball - leftie pitchers are more valuable than righties.

Now I see the abuse beginning with my 4-year-old son, who writes, plays, eats, etc., with his right-hand, but dad has trained him to bat, throw, and catch (left-handed mitt) as a leftie. Dad even bought him left-handed golf clubs. (We're divorcing and I just found out about the leftie golf clubs today.)

I am very concerned about dad forcing these kids to become lefties for sports purposes. I know there's a lot of research on the Web about lefties having been forced to become righties; does this research apply in the opposite case? Do you know of any specific research regarding my situation?

Thank you!

April 27, 2005

Artistic and Creative

A Reader wrote:

I'm trying to understand the psychology of fellow left-handers. I work as a computer programmer- I love designing dynamic websites and spend more time then I should on layout, selecting colors, font criteria etc. And my main hobbies are carpentry and painting. What I'm trying to get at here is I feel I'm a creative person do other left-handed people feel this way? It's interesting that a few weeks ago when an engineer came to fix my fridge door I noticed that he was left handed, we got chatting and he only happens to be developing an interactive commerce website in his spare time. Is this a coincidence?
What do other lefties feel about this?

April 24, 2005

Brain Theories

Right Brain Learning in 30 Days: Ever since Betty Edwards wrote Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (now over a million copies in print), Americans have discovered the advantages of tapping into right-brain thinking. Now, the team of Keith Harary and Pamela Weintraub present the first absolutely accessible guide to the wonders of right-brain learning that produce results in less than a month.


Workout for a Balanced Brain: A fun exercise regimen for the brain's weaker hemisphere-right or left. With quick-and-easy tests readers can discern how the brain works and where it needs improvement, and then build their own personalized brain workouts using exercises and puzzles to balance their brains.


Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: A revised and expanded edition of the classic drawing-instruction book that has sold more than 2,500,000 copies. When Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain was first published in 1979, it hit the New York Times bestseller list within two weeks and stayed there for more than a year. In 1989, when Dr. Betty Edwards revised the book, it went straight to the Times list again. Now Dr. Edwards celebrates the twentieth anniversary of her classic book with a second revised edition. Translated into thirteen languages, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is the world's most widely used drawing-instruction guide. People from just about every walk of life--artists, students, corporate executives, architects, real estate agents, designers, engineers--have applied its revolutionary approach to problem solving. The Los Angeles Times said it best: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is "not only a book about drawing, it is a book about living. This brilliant approach to the teaching of drawing . . . should not be dismissed as a mere text. It emancipates."


cover The Dominance Factor: How Knowing Your Dominant Eye, Ear, Brain, Hand, & Foot Can Improve Your Learning


April 18, 2005


cover Left-Handed Guitar : The Complete Method: Attention all Southpaws: it's time to turn your playing around! We're proud to announce that our groundbreaking guitar method solely devoted to lefties is now available with a CD! Complete with photos, diagrams and grids designed especially for the left-handed player, this book/CD pack teaches fundamentals such as: chords, scales, riffs, strumming; rock, blues, fingerpicking and other styles; tuning and theory; reading standard notation and tablature; and much more! Now with CD!


cover Left-Hand Guitar Chord Chart: A handy chord reference guide showing basic major and minor chords in all keys. Relative and secondary minor chord relationships shown on principal chords. All forms are fingered for the left-handed guitarist. Also shown is a guitar fingerboard with all the corresponding notes on a guitar strung for a left-handed performer.



cover Picture Chord Encyclopedia for Left Handed Guitarists: At long last, the ultimate reference for left-handed guitarists! This amazing book features photos and diagrams for over 2600 chords specifically shown for the left-handed player. It includes easy-to-read chord grids, easy-to-see photos, basic chord theory, basic fingering principles, open chords and barre chords, partial chords and broken-set forms.


cover Guitar Case Guide to Left-Handed Chords: The ultimate left-handers’ guitar case chord book. All the chords you use most often, in a handy guitar case size. With clear diagrams and helpful hints and tips for easy reference.



cover Left-Handed Sewing: For those who sew left-handed: practical tips on how to adapt easily to right-handed diagrams, tools and instructional materials. Includes detailed material on basic tools for hand sewing, basic hand stitches, dealing with hooks and eyes, snaps, hand-rolled hems, darning and sewing on feathers, sequins and beads. The final section introduces basic tailoring hand stitches such as the buttonhole, chainstitch, cross stitch and French tack. Nearly 100 line drawings illustrate Sally Rowan’s thoughtful instructions.


cover Left Handed Stitchery: Forty varieties of stitches


cover A Primer of Left-Handed Embroidery

April 4, 2005

It's Not a Disability

Some of the most disturbing e-mail I receive is from the right-handed parents of left-handed children, who are sincerely worried about their children's hand use. Many of these parents express concern that their children will "suffer" and "struggle", and that they will be unable to do schoolwork. Some are actually afraid that normal left-handed behaviors, such as mirror-image writing, using the "hook" position for writing, hand-switching, or partial ambidextrousness, may be signs of a neurological disorder!

Interestingly, I never hear this sort of concern from the left-handed parents of left-handed children. They know better.

Being left-handed is normal! Really. Lefties are simply a minority, as are natural blondes, guys over six feet tall, and people whose wisdom teeth come in without complications.

Are we sometimes singled out for stereotyping or teasing by ignorant folks? Yes. So are red-heads, who are suspected of having bad tempers. So are very tall men, who are assumed to be basketball players. So is anyone whose name can be made to rhyme with a schoolyard insult. So what?

Yes, we do sometimes run into obstacles in the form of tools that are very specifically designed for right-handed use. But most of the objects that we use in our everyday lives are free of prejudice. Pencils, hammers, screwdrivers, drinking glasses, matches, staplers, light switches, footballs, and a million other everyday objects work equally well when used with either hand. And when faced with a tool designed very specifically for right-handed use, most of us can adapt. Consider the automobile. In a country where people drive on the right side of the road, both left-handed and right-handed drivers sit on the left side of the car and learn to shift gears with the right hand. In a country where people drive on the left side of the road, both left-handed and right-handed drivers sit on the right side of the car and learn to shift gears with the left hand. It's not a problem!

Certainly, we need more left-handed desks in schools, to provide proper support for our writing arms. And computer hardware and software manufacturers should do a better job of providing support for left-handed mouse use. Undoubtedly, there are some power tools, sports equipment, and other items that would be easier to use if the makers had more lefty awareness. But in all these cases, the obstacles are artificially imposed by other people. There are no obstacles to left-handedness in nature. A young left-handed child who is not subjected to harrassment is just as happy, active, and skillful as a right-handed child the same age. As adults, most of us don't spend much time thinking about our handedness. We just do what we do, the way nature intended.

© 2005 Rosemary K. West