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Neuropsychologia. 2014 Nov;64:300-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2014.09.035. Epub 2014 Sep 30.

One hand or the other? Effector selection biases in right and left handers.

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School of Psychology, University of Aberdeen, Old Aberdeen AB24 3FX, Scotland, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
Perception, Action and Memory Research Group, School of Psychology, Bangor University, Bangor LL57 2AS, Gwynedd, Wales, United Kingdom. Electronic address:


Much debate in the handedness literature has centred on the relative merits of questionnaire-based measures assessing hand preference versus simple movement tasks such as peg moving or finger tapping, assessing hand performance. A third paradigm has grown in popularity, which assesses choices by participants when either hand could be used to execute movements. These newer measures may be useful in predicting possible "reversed" asymmetries in proportions of non-right handed ("adextral") people. In the current studies we examine hand choice in large samples of dextral (right handed) and adextral participants. Unlike in some previous experiments on choice, we found that left handers were as biased towards their dominant hand as were right handers, for grasping during a puzzle-making task (study 1). In a second study, participants had to point to either of two suddenly appearing targets with one hand or the other. In study 2, left handers were not significantly less one handed than their right-handed counterparts as in study 1. In a final study, we used random effects meta analysis to summarise the possible differences in hand choice between left handers and right handers across all hand choice studies published to date. The meta analysis suggests that right handers use their dominant hand 12.5% more than left handers favour their dominant hand (with 95% confidence that the real difference lies between 7% and 18%). These last results suggest that our two experiments reported here may represent statistical Type 2 errors. This mean difference may be related to greater left hemispheric language and praxic laterality in right handers. Nevertheless, more data are needed regarding the precise proportions of left and right handers who favour their preferred hands for different tasks.


Adextrals; Affector choice; Cerebral asymmetries; Meta analysis; Reaching and grasping; Response selection and inhibition

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