Some believe that the southpaws could be quite gifted. But no, an Australian study shows that they tend to consistently perform worse than right-handed people in measures of cognitive ability, or IQ, with the 'level of disability' equivalent to being prematurely born.
"The evidence, based on our analyses of very large databases of handedness and other attributes in people across Australia, the UK and the USA, doesn't bear out that myth," Professor Nicholls said.
Advertisement"Our study of members of the same family confirms that left-handed children will do worse than their right-handed siblings," says Professor Nicholls, Director of the Brain and Cognition Laboratory in Flinders University's School of Psychology.
Professor Nicholls, who is himself left-handed, says the issue is tied to left/right asymmetries in the brain, or laterality - a major research focus of the Laboratory.
"Left and right could so easily be the same in humans and in some animal species it is the same. In humans, though, there seems to be this large specialisation of the two sides of the brain," he said.
"It is most likely related to squeezing as many eggs as possible into one basket."
Spatial attention is the second research focus of the Laboratory team which includes postdoctoral fellows Tobias Loetscher from Switzerland and Nicole Thomas from Canada.
"We're very interested in how the general population tends to pay more attention to the left-hand side of an object than the right," Professor Nicholls said.
This bias manifests itself as a tendency to deviate to the right in activities from steering a wheelchair to walking and even goal-kicking.
"There is a difference between near and far space and how the brain codes what can and cannot be touched.
"In the case of AFL footballers, when they aim for the midpoint between two posts, they tend to kick slightly to the right of middle."
Professor Nicholls said the ultimate goal of his research is to develop remedial techniques for people with neurological problems such as ADHD and brain damage.
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