Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Benefits of Mixed-Dominance...Lefties, Dyslexics, and Gaming

If you are frustrated by what's not easier to do with mixed-dominance, then read on- In a recent study by Australian researchers, lefties and dyslexic subjects were found to be faster at interhemispheric transfer than more conventional right-handed controls. Although it seems to be a right-handed world (90%), people with quicker interhemispheric connections are over-represented among the mathematically gifted and they tend to perform more quickly and accurately in demanding and complex tasks.

In the figure at right, BDA corresponds to "Bilateral Distribution Advantage". So the idea is that although "L-brain" folks may be better at simpler visual or motor response activities, when visually demanding tasks are given (challenging both hemispheres simultaneously), the mixed-dominance folks win.

Excerpt from Nick Cherbuin interview: "There are more left-handers who have brains that are more symmetrical, where the left side is more equal to the right side, whereas in right-handers one side tends to be larger than the other.

KATHRYN ROBERTS: So what exactly does that mean?

The researchers studied the reaction times of 100 volunteers to two computer tasks, which measured the speed of transfer between the left and right sides of the brain and the quality of the interaction.

Dr Cherbuin found that the left and right hemispheres communicated faster in left-handed people.

NICK CHERBUIN: Those people who have more efficient interactions between the two sides of their brain tend to perform better at complex tasks that require more resources, and when one side of the brain runs out of processing power it recruits more processes from the other hemisphere.

So those tasks that are very complex or that require very fast processing tend to be helped by spreading the load across the two sides of the brain.

KATHRYN ROBERTS: He says left-handers might be better at playing computer games, driving in traffic, or piloting a fighter jet, and may even have an advantage in old age..." For more, read here.

For a LOT more on this, you can download Cherbuin's thesis. We haven't had a chance to read it in detail. One chapter discusses dyslexics (they have faster interhemispheric transfer times or ITT), though. Apparently fast ITT is not always a good thing; some think while it may make synchronous activities easier, it may make the timing of alternating movements (between right and left) harder.

BTW, we'll be going off the blog briefly because we'll be keynoting at the Boston Learning and the Brain Conference this weekend. Please stop by and say hello you come to the conference. We'll be speaking on Stealth Dyslexia April 29th 3:30 - 4:40 pm (Salon I-II) and give the closing keynote April 30th 4:00-5:00 pm in the Grand Ballroom. The meeting takes place at the Marriott Cambridge Hotel. We may still post occasionally if we something interesting comes up, but otherwise we'll be back on a regular schedule next week, April 26th.

Cherbuin's Thesis on Mixed Dominance, Dyslexia, and Bilateral Distribution Advantage
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Well-Rounded vs. Lop-Sided Learners

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