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September 24, 2007

The rise and fall of left-handedness

photo of a left-handed person writing from the left handed writer's page at http://www.nibs.com/Left-hand%20writers.htm

The rate of left-handedness is one of those odd little areas of scientific investigation that plugs along unnoticed for years, until a clever new bit of research catches the public eye. Just such a bit of research showed up in the new issue of Current Biology. Researchers there report that they've used a clever new technique to determine how many people were left-handed a century ago.

The researchers got a hold of 90 minutes worth of early film footage, taken between 1900 and 1906. The film is full of mundane "home movie" type scenes, including images of nearly 400 people waving at the camera. Since there's a direct correlation between left-waving and true left-handedness, it was a simple matter to work out the rate of southpaws a century ago.

So who cares how many people are left handed? Well, first of all it's just cool to know stuff like that. But there's also possible connections between handedness and conditions like schizophrenia, dyslexia, stuttering and autism.

There's an article about it on Scientific American's website.

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at September 24, 2007 12:01 AM