People long believed behind left-handed was a curse – that those so burdened were actually the devil’s minions here on earth.
Those who are left-handed take exception to that characterization, and now that we have science and stuff, we’ll have to agree that they’re not any less human than the rest of us.
The genes associated with left-handedness, though, are interesting – they are the same ones often implicated in mental illnesses like schizophrenia and dementia.
They studied the genomes of around 400,000 people in the UK, 38,332 of whom are left-handed, and learned that 4 genetic regions appear to be in lay. Not only that, but 3 of the 4 regions code for the proteins that make up the cytoskeleton of brain cells themselves.
Left-handers tend to display differences in the very structure of these brain regions, particularly the ones that deal with language.
Author Akira Wiberg goes into more detail:
“In left-handed participants, the language areas of the left and right sides of the brain communicate with each other in a more coordinated way. This raises the intriguing possibility for future research that left-handers might have an advantage when it comes to performing verbal tasks, but it must be remembered that these differences were only seen as averages over very large numbers of people and not all left-handers will be similar.”
These same genes play a role in psychiatric disorders and cognitive decline – among them dementia, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia, and auditory hallucinations.
Researchers point out, though, that the genes only cause trouble for a small number of people, so we can’t conclude that being left-handed is or isn’t any kind of risk factor.
It doesn’t make you crazy, and it definitely doesn’t make you the devil’s minion, but it does make you part of a pretty special club.
At least, that’s what my grandpa would have said.