Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing? ”The reason for the paradox is that the left hand’s way of knowing things is different from the right hand’s way of knowing. The difference can be discerned in the design of a piano – the lower notes are to the left, so that the bass notes that are mostly used for harmony and tempo are played by the left hand and the right hand tackles the melody. The simultaneous striking of multiple keys to form chords with the left versus the sequential ordering of chords into melody by the right hand. Both are required for a pleasing musical composition and both styles of thinking, holistic and sequential, left and right hand thinking, are required for effective teaching. Both are required for every great work of art.

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix

” What is characteristic of the great work of art is that its metaphoric artifice, its juxtapositions, have not only surprise value but also illuminating novelty. The two combine to create what we shall later refer to as “effective surprise.” ( Jerome S. Bruner )

This is Bruner’s way of saying that “art is the process of destruction of sameness” as I have written elsewhere. “The road to banality is paved with creative intentions,” Bruner says , and just as the instructions on the cake mix box, the banality shows up in replication and kitsch. One sameness that has handicapped our ability to understand healthy human mental functioning is that scientists for the most part have studied in detail those with less than normal mental functioning, up until now. ( Bobby Matherne )

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain

The right side of the brain is supposed to be more artistic, isn’t it? This is really the main idea that supports the left-hand artistic theory. That, and the idea that the construction of reality on different terms, being what is singularly remarked.  For many years, people have circulated the idea that the left and right sides of the brain are also responsible for mathematical and artistic endeavors. If this were true, it would be easy to connect left-handers to music, writing, painting, and any other great works of art. However, the reasons why left-handedness should be associated with enhanced creativity are quite fragmentary, but intriguing nonetheless .

If hand preference is related to creativity, then the genesis of the hand preference might help explain the relationship between preference and creativity. There might be a deeper process at work of which hand preference is its most visible symbol, though not one which is conclusive. Darwin’s theory of evolution held the most fit survive. Are right handers the most fit? Darwin was alleged to be left-handed himself and was always perplexed by what he recognized as left-handed land- molluscs, and their  ability to survive.mcCartney1

Darwin explained his obsession: “One of the subjects on which I have been experimentising & which cost me much trouble is the means of distribution of all organic beings found on oceanic islands; & any facts on this subject would be most gratefully received: Land-Molluscs are a great perplexity to me.”…. In rare individual snails from right-handed species, however, the shells will have the opening on the left and are referred to as sinistral, or left-handed. Some entire species are sinistral. Biologists have known for almost a century that a simple genetic basis is behind shell handedness, at least in some species, such that the mutation of a single gene can cause right-left reversal. The mystery then is why, if both forms can occur and reversal is genetically easy, are most species either entirely right- or left-handed?

”An answer may be found in one of the logistical challenges that living with most of the body inside a shell imposes on snails — mating. Here is where handedness matters a lot. The genital opening is behind the right tentacle in right-handed snails. When land snails mate, they face each other, which brings their genital openings side by side. Snails with opposite handedness are misaligned, making it physically difficult for them to mate.chaplin29

Any rare reversed individual snail would obviously have difficulty mating. As Darwin knew so well, if one cannot mate, it is the end of the line. Once of a given handedness, a species and its descendants would tend to stay that way. But what if there were some other reversed individuals around? They could mate with one another and might form a new, reversed population. If members of that population continued to fail to mate successfully with snails of opposite handedness, that population might eventually evolve into a new species. And that seems to be exactly what has happened several times in a group of Japanese snails — and perhaps very many times in land snails in general.” ( Sean B. Carroll )

Clearly,the micro-biology of crawling snails in Southeat Asia may have more bearing than we wish to consider. In humans, very little is known as yet about the relationship of central nervous system structures and creativity, though many claims are made under pseudo-scientific pretensions. Some cerebral lateralization research has led many to claim that left-handers or ambidextrous individuals who are presumed to be using the right side of their brain more than right-handers, are more likely to be creative. Left handers, it would appear, are overly represented in such fields as art, architecture, and music; Michelangelo, da Vinci, Picasso and Einstein. Suggestive and compelling as this may sound, there is also evidence that left handed persons are much more prone to a variety of unusual pathologies. Thus, whatever neurological difference handedness makes might not be directly linked to creativi

but rather to deviency from trhe norm that can take either a positive or negative value.

Rembrandt. Self Portrait

Rembrandt. Self Portrait

Thus, there is some support for the claim their brains are responding to, or processing, emotional events differently from the brains of right-handers. Asymmetry is an important feature of the human brain, with the left side usually controlling speech and the right side controlling emotion. In left-handers, this pattern is usually reversed.

”An American scientist has gathered new evidence on the link between left-handedness and intellectual creativity, confirming that “true left-handers” tend to be more intelligent and eloquent than right-handers, and better at solving problems. Dr Alan Searleman, from St Lawrence University, New York, presenting his findings to the American Psychological Association’s annual conference, said: “Left-handers have a higher ‘fluid’ intelligence and better vocabulary than the majority of the population. This is perhaps why there are more of them in creative professions, such as music, art and writing.”…The research also found that more left-handed people were intellectually gifted, with IQs over 140, Dr Searleman said.

''With the time Edvard Munch receives numerous loving disillusionments, which also will be represented in its works. It frustrated by the female refusal, in an occasion discussing with a woman with which had been involved sentimentally decides to be cut the finger. Their nervous problems, aggravated by their alcoholism, they oblige him to remain boarding school eight months in a psychiatric clinic of Copenhagen.''

''With the time Edvard Munch receives numerous loving disillusionments, which also will be represented in its works. It frustrated by the female refusal, in an occasion discussing with a woman with which had been involved sentimentally decides to be cut the finger. Their nervous problems, aggravated by their alcoholism, they oblige him to remain boarding school eight months in a psychiatric clinic of Copenhagen.''

Current president Barack Obama was sworn in as president of the United States, on a mandate of change, but for left-handed Americans it was more of the same; the status quo. The reason? Only 10 percent of the American population is left-handed, and Obama is one of this minority group. In fact, four of the past six presidents—Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton—were also left-handed;”80% of presidents in the last 30 years have been lefties. That’s every single one except George W. Bush.

Two Pakistani researchers explored the effect of handedness on the intelligence level of students. The sample included an equal number of left-handed and right-handed students drawn from various universities in Pakistan, altogether 150 subjects. Subjects were assessed for both handedness and intelligence. The researchers found no significant difference in intelligence between subjects from various educational levels, but they did find that left-handed subjects were significantly more intelligent than right-handed subjects. Results were published in the January 2007 Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology.obama3

Then Johns Hopkins economists determined, in a nationally representative sample of 5,000 men and women, that left-handed college-educated men earned 15 percent more than right-handed college-educated men did, even after possibly confounding factors such as age, race, IQ, level of education, and marital status were considered. But back to Darwin and his southpaw snails:

”Both observations make perfect sense, but there may be something more to the explanation of why some species are left-handed than mating difficulties. There appears to be a greater diversity of left-handed land snails in Southeast Asia than elsewhere. Dr. Asami, Masaki Hoso and Michio Hori of Kyoto University have uncovered an astounding reason why this may be so — right-handed-snail-eating snakes.einstein4

In order to test whether this contrivance was in fact useful to the snakes, the researchers conducted experiments in which they compared the efficiency of feeding on left- and right-handed forms of the same snail species. The snakes failed more often at consuming left-handed snails, apparently because their upper jaws barely reached the outer shell on which they needed to anchor. Even when the snakes managed to eat left-handed snails, the process of extraction required more time and effort.

The work shows that snail asymmetry has driven the evolution of a unique asymmetry in snakes, but, as Darwin would have predicted, the snakes also appear to be driving snail evolution. All right-handed snails are not all equally vulnerable to the snakes. Dr. Hoso and Dr. Hori identified a snail subspecies that had evolved a narrower aperture that impeded a snake’s ability to work its jaws over the body. These snails escaped capture and predation more frequently than did their close relatives with larger apertures. ( Sean B. Carroll )

Paul Klee

Paul Klee

”Nonetheless, some studies reported in the psychiatric research literature suggest that being left-handed or ambidextrous has another side—that left-handed or ambidextrous persons are more likely to have certain mental disorders than right-handed persons are. Moreover, the number of these studies, as well as their quality, intimate that the links they have made between left-handedness or ambidexterity and mental disorders are not simply related to chance.

During the 1970s and 1980s, for instance, some studies noted what appeared to be an unusually large percentage of left-handed or ambidextrous people among those with autism, dyslexia, stuttering, or neurodevelopmental disorders. Much more recently, DSM-IV developmental coordinational disorder (DCD), which can impair both large and fine motor skills and make everyday activities such as getting dressed, writing by hand, and participating in sports difficult, has also been coupled with left-handedness. In the February 2008 Journal of Child Neurology, two Israeli scientists reported that out of 98 children with DCD, 31 percent were left-handed, and 13 percent were ambidextrous. In the October 2008 Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Canadian researchers reported that out of 19 children with DCD, 37 percent were left-handed.

paul klee

paul klee

An unusually large number of persons with schizophrenia also appear to be left-handed. In one study, some 400 subjects with schizophrenia, major depression with psychosis, bipolar psychosis, or no psychiatric illness were evaluated on handedness. The schizophrenia subjects were left-handed significantly more often than the other groups were, the researchers reported in the May 1994 Journal of Abnormal Psychology.”

Tyrone Cannon, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of California at Los Angeles, and coworkers have since discovered, while comparing the childhood neurocognitive test results of individuals with schizophrenia with those of their siblings or controls—altogether 258 subjects—that 32 percent of those with schizophrenia were left-handed, compared with only 12 percent of their siblings and only 9 percent of the controls. These results were published in the November 2003 American Journal of Psychiatry.

”But perhaps the greatest surprise is that left-handedness has been linked with a mental disorder considered more psychosocial than biological in origin—pedophilia. James Cantor, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto in Canada, and colleagues found, in a study of some 400 sexual offenders, that the odds of being left-handed were about two times greater among pedophiles than among sexual offenders targeting adults as their victims. In fact, more than 30 percent of the pedophiles were left-handed, that is, three times the rate in the general population. Results were published in the August 2005 Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Just as information is prone to errors as it traverses between brain hemispheres, it’s also more likely to encounter novel solutions. Righties or Lefties, who do not have this fluidity,the difference between open and closed handedness,  might dismiss an idea as too radical, but nonrighties might be willing to entertain the thought nonetheless, and develop a solution that a right-hander’s brain would skip right over. Or, they may be slightly more predisposed to do so.

Also, equating left-handedness with creativity glosses over the fact that twenty percent of left-handed people do have strongly lateralized brains and are probably no more creative than right-handers. The idea of lefties as creative types may simply refer to the subgroup of left-handers who lack clear dominance in the hemispheres. So what’s the final verdict? Well, in a way, the human condition itself might be summed up as the balance between the brain’s asymmetries and symmetries—rationality versus creativity, novel ideas versus traditional solutions.

”Darwin’s genius was in finding great general truths among the details of humble, often obscure creatures. The lasting power of his influence stems from our ability to see the principles he, and Wallace, discovered at work wherever we look in nature.”

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  1. Marìa says:

    Only 10% world over: it seems the “normal” way to be is right-handed; many left-handed children are not well lateralized: for instance, they have right eye and right foot dominant; during the first 10 years, I`d say according to my obsesrvations, they have learning problems and dyslexia more often than the 90% of right-handed children, statistically; after 10 years old, the brain I guess have learned to rearrange information and learning processes, it is already wired for the processing of information between the two hemispheres; then the child is able to overcome learning difficulties. There is much yet to be learned about this “deviation” from the norm.

    • Dave says:

      it seems research is groping for an understanding, but it does not seem comprehensive enough; limited variables etc. I thought Darwin’s observations to be quite relevant.
      thanks for reading

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