imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

Are you left-handed? Cheers!

I once had a leftie writing contestant. She was so grammatically smart I only taught her the rudiments of writing: outlining, making topic sentences, inserting facts and figures, ending it right and presto! She brought us to national fame.

One of the more memorable years in our tandem were the division, the regional and national press conferences.

The last she made it was when we won the prestigious national On-The-Spot-Essay Writing Contest sponsored by the Knights of Rizal in Baguio City shortly before she transferred school to pursue her senior high.

Are left-handed individuals really that smarter?

Look at this long list of famous lefties, fellas:

Artists: Leonardo Da Vinci, Paul Klee, Michelangelo Buonaroti, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Peter Paul Rubens

Actors: Amitabh & Abhishek Bachchan, Drew Barrymore, Kim Basinger, Kenneth Branagh, Pierce Brosnan , Jim Carrey, Charlie Chaplin, Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, Matt Dillon, Morgan Freeman, Judy Garland, Whoopi Goldberg, Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, Val Kilmer, Lisa Kudrow, Marilyn Monroe, Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Saunders, Sylvester Stallone, Chewbacca the Wookie

Writers: Lewis Carroll, Bill Bryson, Germaine Greer, Berthold Schwartz, Janet Street Porter
Uhland Ludwig

Animation: Matt Groening, Bart Simpson

Comedy: Harpo Marx 

Fashion: Jean-Paul Gaultier 

Directors: James Cameron, Spike Lee

Music: Benjamin Britten, David Bowie, Celine Dion, Eminem, Kurt Cobain, Noel Gallagher, Bob Geldof, Jimi Hendrix, Annie Lennox, Sir Paul McCartney, Ricky Martin, Sting

Television/entertainment: Melinda Messenger, Magnus Magnusson, Ted Koppel, Paul Daniels, Tim Allen, Jeremy Beadle, Julian Clary, Charlie Dimmock, Loyd Grossman, Ross Kemp, Rik Mayal, Juliet Morris, Nicholas Parsons, Jonathan Ross, Shane Ritchie, Uri Geller, Shawn Michaels 

History: Albert Einstein, Jack the Ripper, Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesa, Aristotle, Neil Armstrong, Henry Ford, Marie Curie, Joan of Arc, Helen Keller

Royalty: Queen Mother, Prince William

Politics: Winston Churchill, President George Bush

Sports: Wasim Akram, Sir Bobby Charlton, Diego Armando Maradona, Pele, Paula Radcliffe, Jimmy White, Mark Williams, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Greg Rusedski, Babe Ruth, David Gower

It is estimated that between 10% and 13.5% of the population are not right-handed. While a few of these people are equally comfortable using either hand, the vast majority are left-handed.

Hand preference is a manifestation of brain function and is therefore related to cognition. Left-handers exhibit, on average, a more developed right brain hemisphere, which is specialized for processes such as spatial reasoning and the ability to rotate mental representations of objects.

Also, the corpus callosum – the bundle of nerve cells connecting the two brain hemispheres – tends to be larger in left-handers. This suggests that some left-handers have an enhanced connectivity between the two hemispheres and hence superior information processing. Why that is, however, is unclear. One theory argues that living in a world designed for right-handers could be forcing left-handers to use both hands – thereby increasing connectivity. This opens up the possibility that we could all achieve enhanced connectivity by training ourselves to use both hands.

These peculiarities may be the reason why left-handers seem to have an edge in several professions and arts. For example, they are over-represented among musicians, creative artists, architects and chess players. Needless to say, efficient information processing and superior spatial skills are essential in all these activities.

How about in handedness and mathematics, fellas?

Who’s smarter — righties or lefties?

Shana Lebowitz says: As is so often the case with social science research, the frustrating answer is “it depends.”

But there are certain cognitive domains where left-handed people do seem to excel. One such area is called “divergent thinking,” or the ability to generate new ideas based on existing information.

That’s according to 1995 research by psychologist Stanley Coren, which was cited more recently in a New Yorker article. Coren conducted several experiments that suggest left-handedness is associated with superior divergent thinking, at least in men.

In one experiment, nearly 1,000 men and women had to think of ways to combine two commonplace objects not typically used together, like a pole and a tin can. In another, participants had to organize a series of words into as many different categories as possible. Results showed that left-handed men performed better on these measures of divergent thinking than right-handed men — although there was no such difference for women.

Coren was able to effectively rule out the possibility that lefties are simply smarter overall by administering a test of convergent thinking, which involves applying existing knowledge and rules to come up with a correct answer. Participants had to indicate which word in a series didn’t fit the pattern — and righties performed slightly better.

In the paper, Coren notes that his results might help explain why lefties are more common among mathematicians, architects, artists, and chess experts.

More recent research, cited in the New Yorker article, has found that lefties demonstrate superior spatial skills, mental flexibility, and working memory.

So, are you a leftie, fella?

Cheers! You have all the reasons to be proud.