Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Brain & Nervous System Health Center

Font Size

Righty or Lefty? It's Largely Genetic, Study Suggests

Work with developing embryos provides new information

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Sept. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists have identified a network of genes that influences whether you are right-handed or left-handed.

The researchers did so by looking at developing embryos.

"The genes are involved in the biological process through which an early embryo moves on from being a round ball of cells and becomes a growing organism with an established left and right side," study first author William Brandler, a doctoral student in the functional genomics unit at Oxford University in England, said in a university news release.

This gene network also may help establish left-right differences in the brain, which in turn influence whether a person is left- or right-handed, according to the study, published Sept. 12 in the journal PLoS Genetics.

These findings, however, don't completely explain right- and left-handed differences in people, the researchers said.

"As with all aspects of human behavior, nature and nurture go hand-in-hand," Brandler said. "The development of handedness derives from a mixture of genes, environment and cultural pressure to conform to right-handedness."

About 90 percent of people are right-handed. Humans are the only species with such a strong bias in handedness.

Today on WebMD

nerve damage
Learn how this disease affects the nervous system.
senior woman with lost expression
Know the early warning signs.
 
Close up of eye
12 culprits that affect your ability to focus.
medical marijuana plant
What is it used for?
 
senior man
Article
brain research briefing
Article
 
Syringe
Article
Vaccine and needle
VIDEO
 
mans hands on laptop keyboard
Article
brain illustration stroke
Slideshow
 
most common stroke symptoms
Article
Parkinsons Disease Medications
Article