Visual experience affects handedness

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Biopsychology, Department of Psychology, Ruhr-University of Bochum, 44780 Bochum, Germany.
Behavioural brain research (Impact Factor: 3.03). 11/2009; 207(2):447-51. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2009.10.036
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In birds, a lateralised visual input during early development importantly modulates morphological and functional asymmetries of vision. We tested the hypothesis that human handedness similarly results from a combination of inborn and experience-driven factors by analysing sidedness in children suffering from congenital muscular torticollis. These children display a permanently tilted asymmetric head posture to the left or to the right in combination with a contralateral rotation of face and chin, which could lead to an increased visual experience of the hand contralateral to the head-tilt. Relative to controls, torticollis-children had a higher probability of right- or left-handedness when having a head-tilt to the opposite side. No statistical significant relation between head position and direction of functional asymmetries was found for footedness and eye-preference, although the means show a non-significant trend in the same direction as was observed for handedness. Thus, an increased visual control of the hand during early childhood seems to modulate handedness and possibly other lateral preferences to a lesser extent. These findings not only show that human handedness is affected by early lateralised visual experience but also speak in favour of a combined gene-environment model for its development.

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Available from: Corinna Buerger, May 04, 2015
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    • "Those findings may be understood as suggesting that sight of the arm was functional for successfully compensating for an extrinsic load, supporting the notion that a lateral bias of vision can affect arms mobilization (see also van der Meer, van der Weel, & Lee, 1995). Data from children suffering from congenital muscular torticollis has offered supplementary information on this point (Ocklenburg et al., 2010). Those children display a permanently tilted asymmetric head posture to either side in combination with a contralateral face rotation, which favors increased visual contact with the hand contralateral to the head-tilt. "
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    ABSTRACT: Effect of arm visibility on immediate manual preference was evaluated in 5-month-old infants on the task of reaching for a toy. Manual preference was assessed under full vision, and then in consecutive intervals in which vision of the preferred arm was occluded. Results showed that preferred arm visual occlusion led to reduced frequency of its use, with weakened persistence of that effect in the ensuing reestablishment of full vision. These results reveal that visual contact with the arms modulates their selection to perform reaching movements.
    Developmental Neuropsychology 07/2014; 39(5):331-341. DOI:10.1080/87565641.2014.932359 · 2.24 Impact Factor
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    • "On the other hand, although it is thought that handedness is genetically determined, a purely genetic model has yet failed to satisfactorily explain some observations regarding hand preference. Thus, when researchers apply models that attempt to interpret handedness, it is essential that factors other than genetic (e.g., environmental and cultural) are taken into account (Ocklenburg et al., 2010). For instance, experience, learning, practice (Scharoun & Bryden, 2014), early-life environment and social pressures (Suzuki & Ando, 2014) affect handedness decisively, while hand preference in people with severe visual impairments depends on a set of factors such as cultural expectations, experience, task requirements, strategy preferences, familiarity with the material, and reading habits in addition to accounting for individual differences on handedness (Sadato, 2005). "
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    ABSTRACT: The research aims of the present study were: (a) to assess the hand preference of blind persons in everyday activities on the basis of gender, type of blindness, and age; and (b) to conduct the above analysis at both the item level and the latent trait level, after concluding the optimum factor structure of the instrument. Participants were 82 individuals with visual impairments and blindness. Their mean age was 29.99 years. Handedness was evaluated using a modified version of the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory (Oldfield, 1971). When comparing handedness preferences across age of sight loss, gender, and age groups results indicated that there were significant differences in preference for several everyday tasks across age of sight loss and age groups but not gender. These results were also confirmed at the latent-trait mean level. The present findings add to the extant literature that highlighted hand preferences for individuals with visual impairments and blindness.
    Research in developmental disabilities 04/2014; 35(8). DOI:10.1016/j.ridd.2014.03.027 · 4.41 Impact Factor
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    • "All these findings are consistent with the emerging view that handedness is determined by multiple interacting genetic and environmental factors. A recent study [43] showed that human handedness is affected by early lateralised visual experience, thus leading the researchers to the suggestion that a combined gene-environment model could better explain the development of human handedness. Hormones also influence brain development, as has been demonstrated by comparing female and male brain lateralization and specialization [44] [45]. "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the present study is twofold. First, we tested the view that individuals who do not develop a typically strong behavioral laterality are distributed differentially among the two genders across age. Second, we examined whether left-handedness and mixed-handedness are associated with an elevated risk of some developmental or cognitive deficits. A special recruitment procedure provided norms of the Rey Osterrieth Complex Figure copy (ROCF) from large samples of left-handed (N=420) and mixed-handed (N=72) compared to right-handed (N=420) schoolchildren and adults (N=545). This graphic task was considered as reflective of the growth of visual-spatial skills and impairment at copying as a developmental risk. Subjects’ hand preference was assessed by the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory. Data analysis indicated that: (1) The trend towards consistent right-handedness is sex-related. Girls are clearly ahead of boys in this lateralization process and boys are over-represented in mixed-handed subjects. The greater prevalence of mixed-handed boys compared to girls decreases with age. (2) Performance on drawing the ROCF varies according to age and handedness groups. Mixed-handed subjects scored worse in all age groups. The results are discussed in relation to the hormonal-developmental, neuropathological, and learning theories of lateralization.
    01/2013; DOI:10.1155/2013/169509
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