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J Nutr Health Aging. 2008 Nov;12(9):641-7.

Handedness and cognitive function in older men and women: a comparison of methods.

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1
University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Previous studies of handedness and cognitive function rely on self-classification and yield inconsistent results. This study examines the associations of self-reported versus grip-strength-based handedness with cognitive function in healthy older men and women.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional study.

SETTING:

1988-91 follow-up clinic visit and 1991 mailed survey.

PARTICIPANTS:

684 men and 985 women aged 55-95 who were community dwelling.

MEASUREMENTS:

Cognitive function was assessed with 12 tests and grip strength was measured by hand-held dynamometer. Self-reported handedness was obtained with a mailed survey.

RESULTS:

By self-report, 92.1% of men and women were right-handed; 2.0% were left handed. By grip strength, in men, 64.3% were right-handed, 22.5% left-handed, and 13.2% ambidextrous. In women, 61.3% were right-handed, 17.3% left-handed, and 21.4% ambidextrous. No cognitive function differences were found by self-reported handedness in either sex (p's>0.10). However, based on grip strength, left-handed women scored poorer than right-handed or ambidextrous women in immediate and delayed memory, attention, and verbal fluency (p's<0.05). Using categorical definitions, left-handed or ambidextrous individuals based on grip strength were more likely to show poor cognitive function on 4 of 5 tests.

CONCLUSION:

Grip strength is a useful alternative to self-reports for classifying handedness. Left-handedness by grip-strength, may be related to poorer cognitive function; this association may vary by gender.

PMID:
18953462
PMCID:
PMC2645079
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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