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Brain Cogn. 2001 Jun-Jul;46(1-2):209-13.

Handedness and immune function.

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Department of Psychology, Pomona College.


Geschwind, Galaburda, and Behan (GBG) have suggested that in utero levels of testosterone influence both cerebral and immune system developments (Geschwind and Behan, 1982; Geschwind and Galaburda, 1984; Geschwind and Galaburda, 1985). According to this theory, high levels of testosterone result in greater incidences of left-handedness, deviations from standard distribution of cerebral functions (known as anomalous dominance), and increased autoimmune dysfunction. While the original data supported these assertions, more recent tests of the hypothesis have been equivocal. One criticism of these studies is that the definition of both handedness and anomalous dominance are too vague. It was one of the aims of this project to investigate and clarify the GBG model by examining four different aspects of handedness as well as a more direct measure of anomalous dominance. In order to extend the GBG model, degree of left-handedness, general immune system functioning, and current testosterone levels were also examined. First, it was predicted and found that left handers had a higher incidence of autoimmune diseases in their immediate families than did right handers. Second, those left handers with an incidence of at least one autoimmune disease were more strongly left-handed than were those with no incidence of autoimmunity. Finally, it was observed that higher testos terone levels were supportive of general immunity. The present findings both support and expand the GBG model.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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