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Trends Mol Med. 2014 Feb;20(2):83-90. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2013.10.008. Epub 2013 Nov 23.

The genetic relationship between handedness and neurodevelopmental disorders.

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MRC Functional Genomics Unit, Department of Physiology, Anatomy, and Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3PT, UK; Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX3 7BN, UK.
School of Medicine, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, KY16 9TF, UK. Electronic address:


Handedness and brain asymmetry have been linked to neurodevelopmental disorders such as dyslexia and schizophrenia. The genetic nature of this correlation is not understood. Recent discoveries have shown handedness is determined in part by the biological pathways that establish left/right (LR) body asymmetry during development. Cilia play a key role in this process, and candidate genes for dyslexia have also been recently shown to be involved in cilia formation. Defective cilia result not only in LR body asymmetry phenotypes but also brain midline phenotypes such as an absent corpus callosum. These findings suggest that the mechanisms for establishing LR asymmetry in the body are reused for brain midline development, which in turn influences traits such as handedness and reading ability.


cerebral asymmetry; ciliogenesis; corpus callosum; dyslexia; handedness; schizophrenia

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