[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 11:45 GMT
Left-handers 'think' more quickly
Martina Navratilova
Martina Navratilova is left-handed
Left-handed people can think quicker when carrying out tasks such as playing computer games or playing sport, say Australian researchers.

Connections between the left and right hand sides or hemispheres of the brain are faster in left-handed people, a study in Neuropsychology shows.

The fast transfer of information in the brain makes left-handers more efficient when dealing with multiple stimuli.

Experts said left-handers tended to use both sides of the brain more easily.

Study leader Dr Nick Cherbuin from the Australian National University measured transfer time between the two sides of the brain by measuring reaction times to white dots flashed to the left and right of a fixed cross.

This seems to go with evidence that left-handers use both sides of the brain for language
Dr Steve Williams

He then compared this with how good participants were at carrying out a task to spot matching letters in the left and right visual fields, which would require them to use both sides of the brain at the same time.

Tests in 80 right-handed volunteers showed there was a strong correlation between how quickly information was transferred across the left and right hemispheres and how quickly people spotted matching letters.

But when the tests were repeated in 20 left-handed volunteers, the researchers found that the more left-handed people were, the better they were at processing information across the two sides of the brain.

Extreme left-handed individuals were 43 milliseconds faster at spotting matching letters across the right and left visual fields than right-handed people.

More efficient

Dr Cherbuin, research fellow at the University concluded: "These findings confirm our prediction of increasing efficiency of hemispheric interactions with increasing left-handedness."

But he added that it wasn't a clear-cut pattern as there were subtle differences between strongly and mildly left-handed or right-handed individuals.

Dr Cherbuin explained that people tended to use both hemispheres for tasks which are very fast or very hard and which require interpretation of a lot of information, such as computer games or driving in heavy traffic or playing sport.

Chartered psychologist, Dr Steve Williams said left-handed people tended to be better at using both sides of the brain.

"It's certainly very interesting. It's always been said that left-handers are different from right-handers in that they are less consistent with their left-handedness.

"This seems to go with evidence that left-handers use both sides of the brain for language - that they are more bicerebral. They get faster at it because they're having to use both sides of the brain more."

"In football, being able to shoot with either foot is a huge asset (each foot like each hand is under opposite-side control) and I've heard that left-handers tend to have better backhands in tennis," he added.

Left-handers 'better in fights'
08 Dec 04 |  Health
Left-handers top cricket stats
14 Oct 03 |  Science/Nature

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific