Ambidextrous brain function

C ould learning to write with both hands make your brain sharper and more speedy?

ambidextrous brain function

Could training schoolchildren to use their non-dominant hands improve their exam results? Such claims have been popular for more than a century. Handedness — the preference for using one hand over another — is one of the deepest mysteries of neuroscience. We still know very little about what being left- or right-handed means for brain function, or about what effects learning to become ambidextrous might have.

By the time we reach age four, we have developed a preference for using one hand over the other, which remains with us for the rest of our lives. The vast majority of us favour the right hand, and most of the rest prefer the left.

But a tiny minority — fewer than one in — are ambidextrous. This handedness is inborn and at least partly controlled by genetics. It is also seen in other animals, including some primate groups.

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But the reasons why there is an almost universal preference for the right hand are still unclear. We do know that handedness is related to asymmetries in brain function : the left hemisphere of the brain controls the right side of the body, and vice versa.

Historically, left-handers were stigmatised, punished and forced to use their right hand, but the late 19th century saw the emergence of a movement that advocated the benefits of ambidexterity.

While it is true that brain structure and function can be dramatically altered by new experiences and various kinds of training, and that your brain continues to generate small numbers of new cells throughout lifethe question of how ambidexterity training affects brain function is still largely unexplored. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that training to use the non-dominant hand confers such benefits.

Some neuroscientists argue that ambidexterity training may actually be detrimental, on the basis of several studies suggesting that natural ambidexterity is linked to poorer academic performance and mental health.

These studies show that ambidextrous people perform more poorly than both left- and right-handers on various cognitive tasks, particularly those that involve arithmetic, memory retrieval, and logical reasoningand that being ambidextrous is also associated with language difficulties and ADHD-like symptoms.

Ambidexterity is also associated with greater age-related decline in brain volume. To attempt to undo or tamper with this efficient set-up may invite psychological problems. This is, however, speculation, and there is as yet no evidence that ambidexterity training causes psychological problems. On one hand, the science suggests that being born ambidextrous may come with slight disadvantages, not only for cognitive functioning, but also for mental health.

On the other, it is not at all clear that ambidexterity training would have the same effects on the brain as being born ambidextrous apparently does. Get involved with the Use your head series by joining the discussion on useyourhead.

Keep up with the latest on Guardian Students: follow us on Twitter at GdnStudents — and become a member to receive exclusive benefits and our weekly newsletter. Two-handed, two-brained? Risk and reward Some neuroscientists argue that ambidexterity training may actually be detrimental, on the basis of several studies suggesting that natural ambidexterity is linked to poorer academic performance and mental health.

Get involved with the Use your head series by joining the discussion on useyourhead Keep up with the latest on Guardian Students: follow us on Twitter at GdnStudents — and become a member to receive exclusive benefits and our weekly newsletter.

Topics Education Use your head. Students Higher education Neuroscience Schools Teaching features. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Loading comments… Trouble loading? Most popular.It includes commentary on our own books and films — i. Email Address:. Although more research needs to be done and there are some scientists who have suggested undesirable mental traits result from being ambidextrous, brain scans have revealed one telling statistic that may explain the seemingly high instance of geniuses in the ambidextrous population.

That statistic reveals that unlike right-handersambidextrous people have almost completely symmetrical brains. Meaning they are naturally in the all-important whole brain state. Right handers, on the other hand, generally have strong left brain dominance. Lefties often have brain symmetry as well, but not to the extent that ambidextrous people do. So, could acquiring ambidexterity be one way of bringing out latent genius abilities? Digging deeper, we found a Psychology Today article on the history and neuroscience of left-handed, right-handed and ambidextrous people.

Published on August 12,and written by bestselling author and athlete Christopher Bergland, the article surmises that the ultimate state for genius-level intelligence is to create brain symmetry and to be as close as possible to ambidextrous with your hands. Another article, published in e Science News on October 4,may also offer more specific insights.

So, if Einstein-like interconnectedness of brain hemispheres is the ultimate goal, then it seems being ambidextrous, or at least developing some ambidextrous traits, may facilitate this brain state. A few techniques to develop ambidexterity include: write and draw with the wrong hand i. I broke my right arm the year we learned to write in school so I had to learn to write with my left hand.

Of course when my right arm healed I wrote with my right hand but to this day I can write with either hand, draw with either hand, play the banjo and guitar proficiently and I can twirl drumsticks in each hand simultaneously — a task I say that was much more difficult to learn than writing, drawing or playing any stringed musical instrument.

It took weeks of practice just to be able to rapidly twirl a single drumstick in either hand for any length of time. In my mid fifties my brother, five years my seniorrecalled how as a toddler I would write and draw and write using either hand alternating frequently for better access or when fatigued.

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I had no recollection of this but have remained ambidextrous to a degree. You cannot make yourself smarter. You can improve your concentration. You can force yourself to remember information. You can teach yourself a new skill. You cannot, however, make yourself a genius. Teaching yourself to use your non-dominant hand is bad for your brain. Please look this up, readers. Your brain is the way it is meant to function already.

ambidextrous brain function

You are born with your IQ. Everyone is good at different things. While you may not be a genius and I doubt you are, because such a small percentage of the populace isyou may be great at figuring out the problems of others. Be yourself. Excel in your natural states. Stop trying to damage your brains.If you can write equally well with either hand, then you are the one percent.

Among synesthetes, the instance of ambidexterity and left-handedness is much higher than in the general population. The ambidextrous are more likely to possess the LRRTM1 gene on chromosome 2which is linked to schizophrenia. Studies reveal that people with schizophrenia are significantly more likely to be ambidextrous or left-handed than people who are not schizophrenic.

Another study, conducted through the BBC Science website, shows that of the one percent ofrespondents who indicated equal ease writing with both hands, 9. A study of children ages 7 and 8 shows that the 87 mixed-handed students had more pronounced difficulties in language skills, and at ages 15 and 16, the same students showed a higher risk of ADHD symptoms and performed academically under both right- and left-handed students from the same sample.

Ambis can be quick to angeraccording to a study from Merrimack College, which suggests a higher interlinking of brain hemispheres found in ambidextrous and lefties. A follow-up study found that the increased hemisphere connections correlate to increased awkwardness, clumsiness and moodiness. But inconsistent-handers can also be easier to sway emotionally.

Montclair State University tested a group of right- left and either-handers for emotional stability. Their findings report that of the group, righties were hardest to coerce, and ambis were most likely to report a change in mood based on their surroundings, directed thought, and music. Being able to use both hands with almost equal ease can really pay off, especially in sports, arts and music. Subscribe to our Newsletter!Righties rule, uh, right?

Well, the world is made up of about 90 percent right-handed people so it's simple math that lefties make up the other 10 percent of the population.

ambidextrous brain function

Folks who are truly ambidextrous — those who use right and left hand equally well — make up a negligible sliver of the population. But is ambidexterity inherited or learned and, if so, can it be learned as an adult? Sebastian Ocklenburg, says in an email. Ocklenburg is a professor of psychology at Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany and the author of The Asymmetric Braina blog focusing on handedness.

Handednessthe skill and comfort a person feels using one hand or the other, is considered a complex genetic trait. And since genetics are involved, hand preference develops before a person is even born. But like other complex traits, handedness including ambidexterity doesn't have a simple pattern of inheritance. Yes, there's a greater chance that children of left-handed parents will be left-handed than children of rightys. But, remember, the chance of being a lefty is just 10 percent, so most children of lefties are still right-handed.

And while identical twins are more likely than non-identical twins to be either right- or left-handed, many twins have opposite hand preference. And that's before we even talk about whether a child's handedness is allowed to develop naturally or the parents are influencing which hand their child is using.

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Hand dominance typically develops around age 3 and is fully developed by age 4 to 5. In other words, if a person is truly ambidextrous, their parents will know it by the time they are school age. When he was 4 years old, former Major League Baseball pitcher Billy Wagner broke his right elbow and spent the summer in a cast. In his memoir, " A Way Out: Faith, Hope and Love of the Game ," Wagner vividly recalls being a natural righty at the time and already mad for baseball.

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But for the next six weeks he threw only left-handed. When the cast came off, he was in for a surprise. When he tried throwing with his right, the ball went nowhere.

He'd lost not just strength, but coordination, for baseball in his right arm and gained it in his left. Wagner wouldn't be considered ambidextrous, though he certainly managed to have an incredibly successful career working with his non-dominant hand. Baseball is full of other players who switch hitmeaning they hit equally well from either the left or the right side and that means they're comfortable facing left or right-handed pitchers.

But they, like Wagner, weren't truly ambidextrous, something very difficult to do. And why is that? The strength of this preference varies between individuals. Some people have a very strong preference for one hand and resulting from that, greater issue in using the other for specific tasks.In test examinations alleged ambidextrous persons proved to be either converted left-handers or persons whose results were highly incoherent or even contradictory.

Systematic investigations of the second group of subjects always revealed perinatal cerebral disturbances. This paper discusses the thesis that insufficient oxygen supply to the brain in the perinatal period of life mainly affects the function of the dominant cerebral hemisphere that is responsible for the congenital handedness.

This results, phenomenally, in temporary change in the use of hands, so that the person is often wrongly diagnosed as being ambidextrous. The primary focus of the Center is first and foremost, the prevention of converting left-handed children to their right hand. With this task in mind, persons seeking advice and help at the Center are provided with extensive high-tech testing methods including computerized devices to determine handedness which along with other technological equipment were made available to the Consulting Center by the University of Cologne.

Whenever possible data is also collected from the entire immediate family as well as other relatives. To date, results have shown values of a clearly distinguishable nature for a large compact group of left-handers and right-handers.

Before testing, the majority of the converted left-handers presented themselves behaviorally either as unquestionable right-handers who could also use their left hands or as being ambidextrous!

Why training yourself to be ambidextrous is a bad idea

This self-appraisal is dependent upon the questions raised, sociological and psychological processes as well as the chance knowledge of the subject. Given this subjectivity and the fact that ambidexterity is viewed as being a valuable attribute, statistical results based upon such methods of data collection are practically unusable [16], chapter 2.

However, a small group, seemingly made of a continuum or bridge between left-handers and right-handers did turn up. In reference to this intermediary group, two research questions were explored: 1 Does this intermediary group actually comprise a set of ambidextrous individuals, who are so often mentioned in some of the literature?

ambidextrous brain function

The analysis of the data raised confirmed neither one of these theses. The intermediary group proved too diffuse to be called ambidextrous. A balanced mean was practically never achieved among the otherwise largely correlating individual tests. Consequences of Converting Handedness.

The handedness of a human being is an expression of an inborn, innate lateralization of the cerebral hemispheres where one side dominates. Thus, a dominant right cerebral hemisphere results in a dominant left hand and a dominance of the left cerebral hemisphere is responsible for right-handedness [18].

Converting handedness, whether it be from a dominant left hand to a non-dominant right or the reverse, especially during writing does not result in a change in cerebral dominance but rather a multifaceted cerebral disturbance or damage.

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This functional cerebral damage dysfunction, blockage, and inhibition of brain functioning can then be manifest in the following primary disorders : disturbances in memory for all three areas of information processing encoding, storage, and recall ; difficulty in concentration early fatigue ; difficulty in reading and spelling legasthenic problems ; spatial disorientation e.

Cerebral disturbances.

‘Ambidextrous People’ are Brain-Damaged

Very quickly, problems during pregnancy and birth, as well as difficulties in early childhood were found. In addition, symptoms were found that are often subsumed today under the following terms: MCD — Minimal Cerebral Dysfunction; POS — early childhood Psycho-Organic Syndrome, the foremost term used in Switzerland today; early childhood brain damage; and early childhood exogenous psychological syndrome.

Many of these disturbances are listed in the catalogue, International Classification of Diseases [ 5]. In children it has been observed that frequently partial disturbances in performance are related to perinatal brain damage from the sixth month of pregnancy to the end of the first year and a temporary interruption of the oxygen supply to the brain [ 1].

These cerebral disorders are in part very similar and are, in fact, often identical to the consequences of converting handedness.

Without the necessary knowledge, it is almost impossible to distinguish one from another.Teaching, or even forcing, people to become ambidextrous is a practice that has been around for centuries. Some even claim that learned "cross dominance" can improve brain function. But as the science shows, not only is this not true, it may actually harm our neural development. Indeed, it wasn't too long ago that many parents forced their children to use their nondominant hands.

My own father, who is naturally left-handed, remembers being a child and having his "wrong" hand slapped whenever he reached for a fork or pencil. Eventually, he learned to use his right hand quite proficiently, but at the cost of his left-handedness. Aside from my grandparents' aversion to left-handedness, though, some thinkers argued that ambidextrousness could benefit society as a whole, and result in "two-brainedness". But as cognitive neuroscientist Michael Corballis recently noted in SciAmthis is simply not the case:.

This hype died down in the midth century as benefits of being ambidextrous failed to materialize. Given that handedness is apparent early in life and the vast majority of people are right-handed, we are almost certainly dextral by nature. Recent evidence even associated being ambidextrous from birth with developmental problems, including reading disability and stuttering.

11 Facts About the Ambidextrous

A study of year-olds in England showed that those who are naturally ambidextrous are slightly more prone to academic difficulties than either left- or right-handers. Research in Sweden found ambidextrous children to be at a greater risk for developmental conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Another study, which my colleagues and I conducted, revealed that ambidextrous children and adults both performed worse than left- or right-handers on a range of skills, especially in math, memory retrieval and logical reasoning.

Corballis says the two hemispheres of the brain are not interchangeable, and that they're used for different processes and tasks. It's okay to train your nondominant hand to be more proficient, he says, just don't do it at the expense of your dominant one.

Read the entire article at SciAm. I was born ambidextrous, but when I was little we moved to a small town in the middle of nowhere, and the 1st grade teacher felt it was unnatural for my development to use both hands. She kept me from going to recess for 3 days until I chose a hand. She put two pieces of paper in front of me, with one saying 'Right' and one saying 'Left'.

Then she drew a circle around them, and told me I was to cut the circle with the hand I chose. Since I was, oh, 6 freaking years old, I of course had a difficult time with this decision. Finally, I chose my left hand, because who knows why I probably just wanted to go outside and play already. I didn't tell my mom about this because the teacher was an adult and at that age you assume adults know what they're doing plus she made me feel that using both hands was undeniably wrong in some way, so I think I didn't want my mom to be upset with me.

Oh boy, did my mother let the school have it after she found out. But by then it was too late, and a lefty was born. Lord knows how this affected my brain.Melissa earned a B. Lou Paskalis is the Senior Vice President, Customer Engagement and Investment.

In his role he is responsible for Communications Strategy, Media Investment and Measurement and Marketing Data and Marketing Technology platforms across the entire enterprise.

In his role, Paskalis oversees media strategy and investment across traditional, digital and social channels with an eye toward driving innovative solutions across lines of business.

Prior to joining Bank of America, Paskalis was the Vice President of Global Media, Content Development and Mobile Marketing at American Express. Lou began his career at E. Gallo an has been involved in advertising for nearly three decades. Paskalis is Chairman of the Board of the North American Mobile Marketing Association a board member of the Media Ratings Council.

He serves on multiple IAB task forces and sits on Advisory Councils for Turner, Twitter and Cheddar. He is a long serving jury member of the IAB MIXX Awards and Global Effie awards. Earlier this year, Lou was listed among the sixteen most tech savvy senior executives in the marketing and advertising industry by AdWeek, which also named Lou as one of the 50 most indispensable executives in Advertising.

Lou holds an MBA in finance and marketing and a B.

Can You Become Ambidextrous Later in Life? It Depends

He lives in Manhattan where he indulges his passion for bike riding, travel, fine wine and Formula One motor-racing. In May 2017, Lindsay was named Chief Transformation Officer for WPP and GroupM. The newly created position sees Lindsay lead change initiatives across GroupM, its media agencies and specialists, and working closely with leaders across WPP to deliver the best possible communications for clients.

Lindsay previously served as the Global CEO of Maxus, a position held since October 2014. She joined Maxus in October 2009 as UK CEO and in August 2012, Lindsay took on an additional role as Global Chief Strategy Officer for Maxus.

How to Become Ambidextrous

Lindsay now sits on the Chime LTD board as a non-executive director, representing WPP. Geoff Ramsey is on the cutting edge of consumer, marketing and media trends in a digital world. Through his dynamic and high-energy keynotes, Ramsey consistently wows audiences by weaving together market data and a powerful narrative explaining the critical implications for marketers.

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