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Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2011 Dec;108(50):849-53. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2011.0849. Epub 2011 Dec 16.

Understanding left-handedness.

Author information

1
Klinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Charité Mitte, Grosse Hamburger Str. 5–11, 10115 Berlin, Germany. stefan.gutwinski@charite.de

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The human cerebrum is asymmetrical, consisting of two hemispheres with differing functions. Recent epidemiological and neurobiological research has shed new light on the development of the cerebral lateralization of motor processes, including handedness. In this article, we present these findings from a medical perspective.

METHOD:

We selectively searched the PubMed online database for articles including the terms "handedness," "left handedness," "right handedness," and "cerebral lateralization." Highly ranked and commonly cited articles were included in our analysis.

RESULTS:

The emergence of handedness has been explained by physiological and pathological models. Handedness arose early in evolution and has probably been constitutive for the development of higher cognitive functions. For instance, handedness may have provided the basis for the development of speech and fine motor skills, both of which have played a critical role in the evolution of mankind. The disadvantages of certain types of handedness are discussed, as some cases seem to be associated with disease.

CONCLUSION:

The consideration of handedness from the epidemiological, neurobiological, and medical points of view provides insight into cerebral lateralization.

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PMID:
22259638
PMCID:
PMC3258574
DOI:
10.3238/arztebl.2011.0849
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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