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article imageWhy are people left-handed or right-handed?

By Tim Sandle     Sep 15, 2013 in Science
A genetic study has identified a biological process that appears to influence whether people are right-handed or left-handed.
Researchers have found a connection between the network of genes involved in establishing left-right asymmetry in developing embryos and whether a person becomes left-handed or right-handed. Handedness is better (faster or more precise) performance or individual preference for use of a hand. According to Medical News Today, humans are the only species that show a strong preference for which hand they use, with 90 percent of the population being right-handed.
There are four different types of handedness that include: left-handedness, right-handedness, mixed-handedness, and ambidexterity. Globally, it has been estimated that 12 percent of men and 10 percent of women are left-handed.
According to the research, the genes are involved in the biological process through which an early embryo moves on from being a round ball of cells and becomes a growing organism with an established left and right side. The researchers suggest that the genes may also help establish left-right differences in the brain, which in turn influences handedness. The gene involved has been identified as one called PCSK6.
The research was a joint project between scientists at the Universities of Oxford, St Andrews, Bristol and the Max Plank Institute in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The findings have been published in the journal PLOS Genetics. The paper is titled "Common Variants in Left/Right Asymmetry Genes and Pathways Are Associated with Relative Hand Skill."
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