Did you know that International Left-Hander’s Day is on August 13th and commemorates the inconveniences of being left-handed? What about the fact that one in four of the Apollo astronauts were left-handed? Left-handedness is far less common than right-handedness, especially since 70-95% of the world’s population is right-handed. As a leftie (a left-handed person) myself and the only one in my immediate family, I decided it was time to look into what exactly determines a person’s dominant hand, as well as some fun facts about our unique differences.
It is said that the dominant hand is chosen in the womb by a person’s genes, genetics, and environmental factors. Previous research stated that a baby’s neurological and brain development signified which would be the dominant hand. This is based on which side of the brain showed the most activity in the womb. After all, every person has a favored side of the brain. However, recent studies have discovered that it comes from a baby’s spinal cord. Researchers at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany have found that a baby’s motor cortex is linked to their spinal cord, which sends electrical impulses to the hands, arms, legs, and feet. These impulses cause the parts to move, thus determining which side is the most dominant and active. The hand preference starts to appear when a baby is eight weeks old in the womb, even before the part of the brain that controls movement connects to the spinal cord.
In addition to the noticeable contrast of which hand is the most prevalent, there are many fun facts about left-handed people.
- Left-handers have their own city in West Virginia, and it is officially called Left-Hand, West Virginia after the nearby creek, Left-hand Run.
- Left-handers are known to be more creative.
- U.S. presidents are more likely to be left-handed. In fact, four of the last six presidents were left-handed.
- Along with lefties, Southpaw is a common nickname for left-handed people. According to the History Channel’s website, the term comes from “the practice in baseball of arranging the diamond with the batter facing east. A left-handed pitcher facing west would have his pitching arm toward the south of the diamond.”
- Surprisingly, there is also an advantage with sports. Different hand placement for some sports, especially those with judges, can get more attention. In addition, throwing with your left-hand can confuse other players because of the perceived opposite. This is a main advantage for tennis and baseball.
- There is a long list of left-handed celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Babe Ruth, and Tina Fey. The Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Prince William of the British royal family are also part of this group.
- Mothers over 40 years old are more likely to have a baby who is left-handed, as well as having twins.
- Many lefties learn to become ambidextrous, which means able to use both hands. This could be due to the fact that the world is made for right-handed people, and we have to adapt to use school desks, notebooks, and computer mice. Oh, do I remember the days of getting pencil smear on my hand from writing in a notebook. But at least we do get our own versions of scissors, bowling balls, and baseball gloves.
- It is also said that we are more efficient at multitasking and have a better memory.
- A left-handed person is likely to be a U.S. president or billionaire.
- Last, but not least, left-handers are said to be competitive.
Whether you are left-handed or right-handed, celebrate your uniqueness. Also, lefties, don’t forget to celebrate on August 13th – a day made especially for us.