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Different laterality indexes are poorly correlated with one another but consistently show the tendency of males and females to be more left- and right- lateralized, respectively

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Abstract

The most common way to assess handedness is based on the preferred hand for writing, leading to a binary (left or right) trait. Handedness can also be assessed as a continuous trait with laterality indexes, but these are not time- and cost-effective, and are not routinely collected. Rarely, different handedness measures are collected for the same individuals. Here, we assessed the relationship of preferred hand for writing with four laterality indexes, reported in previous literature, derived from measures of dexterity (pegboard task, marking squares and sorting matches) and strength (grip strength), available in a range of N = 6664–8069 children from the ALSPAC cohort. Although all indexes identified a higher proportion of individuals performing better with their right hand, they showed low correlation with each other (0.08–0.3). Left handers were less consistent compared to right handers in performing better with their dominant hand, but that varied across indexes, i.e. 13% of left handers performed better with their right hand on marking squares compared to 48% for sorting matches and grip strength. Analysis of sex effects on the laterality indexes showed that males and females tend to be, on all measures, more left- and right-lateralized, respectively. Males were also over-represented among the individuals performing equally with both hands suggesting they had a higher tendency to be weakly lateralized. This study shows that different handedness measures tap into different dimensions of laterality and cannot be used interchangeably. The trends observed across indexes for males and females suggest that sex effects should be taken into account in handedness and laterality studies.
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Original languageEnglish
Article number191700
Number of pages14
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume7
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2020

    Research areas

  • Handedness, Laterality, Hand skills, Behaviour, Sex effect, ALSPAC

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