Handedness: An alternative hypothesis

Abstract

Handedness data collected during the Hawaii Family Study of Cognition were congruent with similar data from major published studies. Mixed-model segregation analysis did not detect a significant major gene or polygenes contributing to handedness and partitioned the total phenotypic variation into 10–20% genetic and 80–90% environmental components. No relationship between handedness and cognitive ability was detected, but significant relationships between birth stress and offspring handedness were found. There was a significant decline in the percentage of left-handed individuals grouped by advancing age. A hypothesis of handedness is proposed in which left-handedness results from a combination of genotype, birth experience, and maternal example.

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The results reported here were made possible by collaboration of a group of investigators (G. C. Ashton, R. C. Johnson, M. P. Mi, and M. N. Rashad at the University of Hawaii, and J. C. DeFries, G. E. McClearn, S. G. Vandenberg, and J. R. Wilson at the University of Colorado) supported by National Science Foundation Grant GB 34720 and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant HD 06669.

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Ashton, G.C. Handedness: An alternative hypothesis. Behav Genet 12, 125–147 (1982). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01065761

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Key Words

  • handedness
  • segregation analysis
  • birth stress
  • age effects