Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Prevalence and heritability of handedness in a Chinese twin and singleton sample

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Mo Zheng, Catherine McBride, Connie Suk-Han Ho, Jonathan Ka-Chun Chan, Kwong Wai Choy, Silvia Paracchini

School/Research organisations


Left-Handedness prevalence has been consistently reported at around 10% with heritability estimates at around 25%. Lower prevalence has been reported in Asia, but it remains unclear whether this is due to biological or cultural factors. Higher left-handedness prevalence has been reported in males and in twins. Most studies are based on samples with European ethnicities and using the preferred hand for writing as the key assessment. Here, we investigated Chinese singletons (N=425) and twins (N = 205 pairs) using both the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory and Pegboard Task, the latter leading to a continuous measure of handedness (PegQ). We found a higher prevalence of non-right handedness (8%) than what was previously reported in Asian datasets and no evidence of increased left-handedness in twins. We also found some evidence that males have a higher tendency to be left-handed than females. Heritability was similar for both hand preference (21%) and PegQ (22%). However, these two handedness measures present only a moderate correlation (.42) and appear to be underpinned by different genetic factors. In summary, we report new reference data for an ethnic group usually underrepresented in the literature. Our heritability analysis supports the idea that different measures will capture different components of handedness and, as a consequence, comparisons of datasets assessed with heterogeneous criteria are not easily combined or compared.


Original languageEnglish
Number of pages31
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2019

    Research areas

  • Handedness, Edinburgh Handedness Inventory, Pegboard, Chinese children, Twins

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. A novel mutation in SPART gene causes a severe neurodevelopmental delay due to mitochondrial dysfunction with Complex I impairments and altered pyruvate metabolism

    Diquigiovanni, C., Bergamini, C., Diaz, R., Liparulo, I., Bianco, F., Masin, L., Baldassarro, V. A., Rizzardi, N., Tranchina, A., Bruscherini, F., Wischmeijer, A., Pippucci, T., Scarano, E., Cordelli, D. M., Fato, R., Seri, M., Paracchini, S. & Bonora, E., 1 Oct 2019, In : FASEB Journal. 33, 10, p. 11284-11302 19 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Genomic imprinting as a window into human language evolution

    Hitchcock, T., Paracchini, S. & Gardner, A., Jun 2019, In : BioEssays. 41, 6, 11 p., 1800212.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. The prevalence of left-handedness: Five meta-analyses of 200 studies totaling 2,396,170 individuals

    Papadatou-Pastou, M., Martin, M., Munafò, M. R., Ntolka, E., Ocklenburg, S. & Paracchini, S., 23 Apr 2019, In : PsyArXiv. 120 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Constructing and model-fitting receiver operator characteristics using continuous data

    Urquhart, J. A. & O'Connor, A. R., 20 Apr 2018, In : PsyArXiv.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

ID: 262190904