Lefties, unite: a groundbreaking new study has uncovered a link between human DNA and the gift of left-handedness for the very first time.
Are you good at multi-tasking? Would you consider yourself pretty smart? And can you come up with creative solutions to tricky problems? If you answered yes to all three, then there’s a good chance you’re left-handed.
The world may be designed towards right-handed people, but if you’re a lefty, you can pride in the fact that only 10% of the population do things the way you do, whether that’s playing a video game, seeing underwater, or typing super fast. It’s a pretty cool USP considering bona fides geniuses such as Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin and Ben Franklin were all left-handed.
So if you’ve been confronted your whole life with naysayers doubting the special abilities of left-handed people, you might want to point them in the direction of a new study, which confirms the existence of left-handed DNA for the very first time.
According to a groundbreaking new study from neurology journal Brain, research into the correlation between handedness, language areas of the brain and neuropsychiatric diseases has finally proved that genetics played a role in left-handedness.
By analysing the genomes of about 400,000 people from the U.K. Biobank, scientists from the University of Oxford were able to pinpoint four regions of DNA that determined left-handedness.
Through scanning the brains of the participants, researchers discovered mutations in the “scaffolding” inside the body’s cells, called the crytoskeleton, that changed the structure of the white matter of the brain.
“Many animals show left-right asymmetry in their development, such as snail shells coiling to the left or right, and this is driven by genes for cell scaffolding, what we call the ‘cytoskeleton’,” explained Professor Gwenaëlle Douaud, from the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging at the University of Oxford.
“For the first time in humans, we have been able to establish that these handedness-associated cytoskeletal differences are actually visible in the brain.
The discovery is momentous considering no exact genes linked to being left-handed or right-handed have ever been determined, despite extensive research into the link between handedness and genetics in the past.
“It tells us for the first time that handedness has a genetic component,” Douaud told BBC News.
Fascinatingly, the new research uncovered that “in left-handed participants, the language areas of the left and right sides of the brain communicate with each other in a more co-ordinated way”. In other words, the genetic instructions of left-handed people mean they may have better verbal skills.
“This raises the intriguing possibility for future research that left-handers might have an advantage when it comes to performing verbal tasks,” the researcher added.
While there’s still a way to go to fully understanding the relationship between brain development and the dominant hand, and to what extent environmental factors play in influencing handedness, the findings are definitive proof that left-handed people are hardwired differently. And those exceptional genes will continue to carry on.