Left-handed gene discovered31st July 2007
Researchers at Oxford University have identified a gene, LRRTM1, which seems to heighten the chance of being left-handed.
The team of scientists think that LRRTM1 controls areas of the brain related to particular functions, such as language and emotions.
The study, published in the Molecular Psychiatry journal, also suggests that the gene might increase the chance of schizophrenia.
In right-handed people, the brain arranged so the left side is responsible for language and the right for emotions. For left-handed people the reverse usually applies and the team think that the gene causes the change. Around 10% of people are left-handed.
Lead researcher Dr Clyde Francks, from Oxford University's Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, said they hoped the study would help them "to understand the development of asymmetry in the brain. Asymmetry is a fundamental feature of the human brain that is disrupted in many psychiatric conditions."
He reassured left-handed people that they should not be concerned about possible mental illness, stating that there were multiple factors which caused someone to "develop schizophrenia and the vast majority of left-handers will never develop a problem. We don't yet know the precise role of this gene."
Previous studies have shown that left-handed people show more ability for sports and in hand-to-hand combat. They have also been suggested to have more risk of certain diseases and to be more accident-prone.
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Title: Left-handed gene discovered
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 3604
Date Added: 31st Jul 2007