Left-handed people are supposedly rare, only making up about 10% of the population. So, why is it that whenever we meet inspiring, impressively skilled people, they all seem to be left-handed? It may seem like nothing more than a coincidence, but according to multiple studies, those who are left-handed might actually just be more gifted.
Don’t believe us? Some of the world’s most famous academics and creatives are left-handed; Leonardo Da Vinci, Marie Curie, Aristotle, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, and even David Bowie were all southpaws.
But what makes lefties so superior to the rest of us?
Left-hander’s brains may have a more developed right hemisphere
According toIFL Science, your dominant hand is actually a ‘manifestation of brain function and is therefore related to cognition.’
Left-handers exhibit, on average, a more developed right brain hemisphere, which is specialised for processes such as spatial reasoning and the ability to rotate mental representations of objects.
The science outlet also revealed that the corpus callosum (for us right-handers that might not know, this is a bundle of nerves connecting the two brain hemispheres) is also larger in left-handed people. This suggests that lefties can more easily process information and connect between the two halves of the brain.
However, these brain structures aren’t exclusive to left-handed people, and not all southpaws have the same superpowered noggins. In fact, only one-third of people with a more developed right hemisphere are left-handed, which means there’s plenty of remarkable right-handed people out there too.
Another study published in the American Journal of Psychology also supported that left-handed people were more skilled in divergent thinking. The theory is that left-handed people have this increased ability due to navigating tools and spaces designed for right-handed people. So, it’s safe to say the problem-solving muscles of many lefties are well exercised.
Are left-handed people better at math?
While findings are negligible, Benbow reported that left-handed people are more likely to have an IQ of over 131. For reference, Stephen Hawking’s IQ was 160. So, it’s no surprise that other studies also show that being left-handed may be an indicator of your mathematic ability.
One study, conducted by Camilla Benbow and published in 1986 through the journal Brain Science, found that upon observation, the rate of mathematical talent was higher among left-handed students compared to the general population. But it wasn’t just maths where students excelled. Benbow also saw the same trend amongst students gifted in other ways.
However, while it makes sense that left-handed people would be better at maths due to increased brain development and problem-solving skills, many other studies have since disproved Benbow’s findings. Studies also exist that claim there is no relation between dominant hand and academic ability and even some that correlate left-handedness to poor cognitive function. One recent paper even highlighted that there was an over-representation of left-handed people with intellectual disabilities.
To put the debate to bed, IFL Science decided to conduct their own experiment to find out once and for all, if left-handed people are better at maths. The study involved over 2,300 students in primary and high school and found that ‘left-handers outperformed the rest of the sample when the tasks involved difficult problem-solving, such as associating mathematical functions to a given set of data. This pattern of results was particularly clear in male adolescents.’
However, when it came to simple equations and problems, the study found no definitive difference between right and left-handeds.
What are the other benefits of being left-handed?
If brain-smarts and creative talent weren’t enough, left-handed people are also more likely to pass their drivers test on the first go, perhaps due to that corpus callosum we mentioned earlier. Additionally, they’re also more likely to be faster typists and have a better memory.
But, if finding out your left-handed peers basically won the hand-brain lottery hampered your mood, it might put a smile on your face to know that left-handed people are also more clumsy!