Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Lionel Messi have one thing in common: they are all left-handed. The brilliance of these and other icons of art, science and sports has perpetuated the myths surrounding people who work better with the left side of their bodies: they are believed to be more intelligent and creative; Although they also live less than right-handed people, due to cardiovascular problems. For decades, it has also been debated whether using the left hand provides better abilities to perceive, transform, and recreate visual-spatial relationships. Now, researchers from…
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Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Lionel Messi have one thing in common: they are all left-handed. The brilliance of these and other icons of art, science and sports has perpetuated the myths surrounding people who work better with the left side of their bodies: they are believed to be more intelligent and creative; Although they also live less than right-handed people, due to cardiovascular problems. For decades, it has also been debated whether using the left hand provides better abilities to perceive, transform, and recreate visual-spatial relationships. Now, researchers from York University and University College London have just discovered that this is not the case, and that left-handed people do not have better spatial skills, thanks to… A study in which 400,000 people from 41 countries participated Published by the Royal Society.
A few years ago, the British NGO Alzheimer’s Research UK and a group of researchers created a mobile game Sea hero mission. The user puts himself in the shoes of a sailor who must navigate the seas and rivers with the help of a series of maps that he has to memorize. With each level, things become more complicated. The scientific goal of the game, which has been downloaded by more than four million people, was to investigate the relationship between dementia and spatial orientation: which appeared first, Alzheimer’s disease or disorientation.
Given the characteristics of the game, Pablo Fernandez Velasco, a Spanish researcher from the Department of Philosophy at York University (United Kingdom), and his team used Sea hero mission For your studies on the left hand. The app captures user information, including hand preference, and tracks navigation skills. Analyzing data from 422,772 international participants, they found that left-handers were no better or worse than right-handers at the challenges, clarifying a long-standing debate about the links between left-handedness and spatial abilities. To play, participants first had to answer a short questionnaire which showed that left-handers in the research made up an average of 9.94% of participants, and that more men used their left hand than women. These findings are similar to what has been previously found in the general population, where only about 10% of the population worldwide is left-handed and this trait is more common in men (13%) than in women (9%).
Of the nearly half a million participants, those considered in this study were those who had surpassed level 11 of the game and thus demonstrated spatial abilities. “Recruiting participants to our study through a video game is a novel approach, which allowed us to standardize the test in a large database,” Fernandez Velasco said. “We thought there would be other findings, but we found no reliable evidence of any difference in spatial ability between left- and right-handers across countries.” Furthermore, he explains that having a large database allowed them to confirm that factors such as age, gender, and education also do not influence the relationship between hand preference and spatial ability.
The brain contains two hemispheres that control opposite sides of the body. In right-handed people, the left hand controls the dominant right hand and vice versa with left-handed people. One hemisphere dominates some cognitive abilities, but left- and right-handed people show different patterns of lateralization, that is, specialization in a particular area.
Cognitive differences resulting from side effects in the brain have been discussed previously, but spatial ability is not clearly dominated by either hemisphere. Emma Carlson, a neuroscience researcher at Bangor University (in Wales, United Kingdom), explains that in general there is evidence indicating that orientation in space depends more on the right side of the brain, but this does not indicate that they are better or worse than that: “It is likely that navigation depends not only on a single function, but on the relationship between several functions in the brain,” he explains.
This has left scientists unsure as to whether there is any link to greater or lesser abilities depending on laterality. Left-handed people have greater variation in which side of the brain is dominant for performing a task, for example, using the right rather than the left side to process language-related information. But Carlson emphasizes that the answer is certainly more complex and that using the left hand has an effect on some brain functions, but not all. “More research is needed on how it affects certain cognitive functions,” he says.
Are there more left-handed artists and astronauts?
It is known that left-handed athletes are common in professional sports that require quick and accurate responses. These distinct characteristics may be the reason why left-handed people have an easier time in some arts and professions. They are more represented among musicians and astronauts, but Fernandez Velasco believes the structure of the sport or activity influences. For example, in baseball, cricket, and table tennis, since most opponents are right-handed, they are not accustomed to reacting quickly to the unfamiliar movements of their left-handed opponents.
Given that previous research has also suggested that left-handers can also navigate better in virtual and real games, “this has been a complex topic to investigate,” explains Fernández Velasco. It was necessary to include factors such as the fact that the skills of the left side of the body change from one culture to another, and furthermore, to reach conclusive results in testing the effects of the sides, a large number of participants is needed: “The former adds that studies on this matter included what Its average is between 200 to 400 people.
Using a video game Sea hero missionThe researchers were able to overcome both challenges. “Our influence is global, because it spans a wide range of cultures and languages,” he adds. Although “there is still a lot to discover about perception,” Fernández Velasco believes they have shown that, broadly speaking, skills such as spatial navigation are not affected by whether a person uses their left or right hand, and that this does not increase their influence. It does not reduce the chances of winning Sea hero mission. However, the researcher does not rule out that other studies will find some differences when it comes to navigation styles, or preferences for different types of environments.
Having historically been discriminated against in many countries and cultures, left-handed people began to be associated with creativity and genius in the late 20th century, especially in the Western world. He went from being considered a A sign of foolishness or bad luck (even evil) There is a widespread belief that being left-handed increases the likelihood of greater talent in mathematics, greater spatial abilities or superior results on intelligence tests. Year after year, these myths are perpetuated in our popular culture, without an adequate scientific basis to support them.
Now science is beginning to have tools to understand the mysteries surrounding left-handedness, although there are still some unknowns about why this preference arises or to what extent it determines talents and abilities. The latest research indicates that being left-handed is due to a combination of genetic, biological and environmental factors. This new study, which debunks the myth that left-handed people have better spatial vision, calls on us to further review such beliefs. This path, as Emma Carlson points out, involves deepening knowledge about how these functions are organized in the brain.
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