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Handedness as a Proxy for Brain Lateralization, and the Relationship with Language Comprehension and Expression

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Barbara Walas, Marymount University

Description

Handedness is related in complex ways to the distribution of functions between the left and right brain hemispheres (brain lateralization). It is widely believed that lateralization of language function, resulting in its dominance in the left hemisphere, is responsible for the evolution of right-handedness in humans. This research examined the nature of the direct relationship between handedness and performance on language tasks, considering both language comprehension and expression. It was hypothesized, based on an extensive literature review, that the increased bilaterality of function in left-handers’ brains would give them a cognitive advantage at verbal tasks, including language comprehension and expression tasks. To examine the link between handedness, laterality, and language, participants in an Internet based study completed the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory, as well as a picture description task and analysis of a recorded conversation. The results are discussed.

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This oral presentation is based on an individual research project.

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Handedness as a Proxy for Brain Lateralization, and the Relationship with Language Comprehension and Expression

Handedness is related in complex ways to the distribution of functions between the left and right brain hemispheres (brain lateralization). It is widely believed that lateralization of language function, resulting in its dominance in the left hemisphere, is responsible for the evolution of right-handedness in humans. This research examined the nature of the direct relationship between handedness and performance on language tasks, considering both language comprehension and expression. It was hypothesized, based on an extensive literature review, that the increased bilaterality of function in left-handers’ brains would give them a cognitive advantage at verbal tasks, including language comprehension and expression tasks. To examine the link between handedness, laterality, and language, participants in an Internet based study completed the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory, as well as a picture description task and analysis of a recorded conversation. The results are discussed.