Sex differences in left-handedness: A meta-analysis of 144 studies

Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Psychological Bulletin (Impact Factor: 14.39). 10/2008; 134(5):677-99. DOI: 10.1037/a0012814
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Human handedness, a marker for language lateralization in the brain, continues to attract great research interest. A widely reported but not universal finding is a greater male tendency toward left-handedness. Here the authors present a meta-analysis of k = 144 studies, totaling N = 1,787,629 participants, the results of which demonstrate that the sex difference is both significant and robust. The overall best estimate for the male to female odds ratio was 1.23 (95% confidence interval = 1.19, 1.27). The widespread observation of this sex difference is consistent with it being related to innate characteristics of sexual differentiation, and its observed magnitude places an important constraint on current theories of handedness. In addition, the size of the sex difference was significantly moderated by the way in which handedness was assessed (by writing hand or by other means), the location of testing, and the year of publication of the study, implicating additional influences on its development.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Prenatal androgen exposure has been suggested to be one of the factors influencing handedness, making the androgen receptor gene (AR) a likely candidate gene for individual differences in handedness. Here, we examined the relationship between the length of the CAG-repeat in AR and different handedness phenotypes in a sample of healthy adults of both sexes (n=1057). Since AR is located on the X chromosome, statistical analyses in women heterozygous for CAG-repeat lengths are complicated by X chromosome inactivation. We thus analyzed a sample of women that were homozygous for the CAG-repeat length (n=77). Mixed-handedness in men was significantly associated with longer CAG-repeat blocks and women homozygous for longer CAG-repeats showed a tendency for stronger left-handedness. These results suggest that handedness is associated with AR CAG-repeat length, with longer repeats being related to a higher incidence of non-right-handedness. Since longer CAG-repeat blocks have been linked to less efficient AR function, these results implicate that differences in AR signaling in the developing brain might be one of the factors that determine individual differences in brain lateralization.
    Scientific Reports 01/2015; 5. DOI:10.1038/srep08325 · 5.08 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Speech and language-related functions tend to depend on the left hemisphere more than the right in most right-handed (dextral) participants. This relationship is less clear in non-right handed (adextral) people, resulting in surprisingly polarized opinion on whether or not they are as lateralized as right handers. The present analysis investigates this issue by largely ignoring methodological differences between the different neuroscientific approaches to language lateralization, as well as discrepancies in how dextral and adextral participants were recruited or defined. Here we evaluate the tendency for dextrals to be more left hemisphere dominant than adextrals, using random effects meta analyses. In spite of several limitations, including sample size (in the adextrals in particular), missing details on proportions of groups who show directional effects in many experiments, and so on, the different paradigms all point to proportionally increased left hemispheric dominance in the dextrals. These results are analyzed in light of the theoretical importance of these subtle differences for understanding the cognitive neuroscience of language, as well as the unusual asymmetry in most adextrals.
    Frontiers in Psychology 11/2014; 5(1128). DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01128 · 2.80 Impact Factor
  • Source

Full-text (2 Sources)

Available from
May 21, 2014