The Right Hand Man: Manual Laterality and Language

  • Gillian S. Forrester
  • Caterina Quaresmini


Investigations of human laterality suggest motor preference is not arbitrary, but rather represents an evolutionary bias stemming from the asymmetric organization of underlying neural function for skilled action. The most prominent manifestation of lateralized motor behavior in humans is right-handedness. While human right-handedness provides a highly reliable marker for the brain organization of left hemisphere language function, the causal evolutionary link between the two remains highly controversial. Once considered a unique hallmark of human evolution, structural neuroanatomical investigations have now revealed homologous asymmetric language regions (larger left hemisphere) in great apes, providing evidence for a common mechanism underlying communication processes in humans and apes. However, whether this translates into a handedness bias in great apes remains highly controversial. This chapter discusses the unique characteristics of human and non-human primate handedness within an evolutionary framework and explores new manual laterality findings, celebrating the emergence of multimodal, quantitative methodologies aimed at bridging the gap between studies of brain and behavior.


Left Hemisphere Inanimate Object Hemispheric Specialization Communicative Gesture Close Living Relative 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Multidimensional method


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WestminsterLondonUK
  2. 2.Center for Mind/Brain SciencesUniversity of TrentoRoveretoItaly

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