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Genetics of handedness

Have you ever wondered why you, or people in your family, are left-handed? Scientists are not yet sure of the answer but there are good reasons to think that genes are a factor. For example, children of left-handed parents are more likely to be left-handed than children of right-handed parents, and pairs of identical twins are more likely to have the same handedness than pairs of non-identical twins.

Left-handed

Meedoen aan ons onderzoek? Klik hier voor de Nederlandse versie van deze pagina, ons registratiesysteem, en de vragenlijst over linkshandigheid in uw familie.

In our research we aim to find genes that affect human handedness. These same genes are likely to be important for how the left and right halves of the brain grow and function slightly differently from each other. Many of the processes that our brains carry out are asymmetrical, with one side being dominant. Language is an example, which in most people is left-lateralized.

We are interested in left-handedness when it runs unusually strongly in families. If you come from a family with many left-handers and you are interested in participating in genetic research, please register with us and answer some questions about handedness in your family. Please note that you do NOT need to live in the Netherlands to take part. You can participate from home, wherever you live in the world.

The genome is so large that, just by chance, there can be parts that seem to be linked to a trait like handedness but really have nothing to do with it. To distinguish a genomic region that really influences handedness we first need to work with families with ten or more left-handed members, and in which left-handedness is unusually common. The left-handedness can be in the immediate family and also in second and third degree relatives. So please consider your grandparents, cousins, great grandparents and so on.

Specific genes that we find in large families can then be studied in more detail in smaller families that have fewer left-handed members. So please also register with us and answer our questionnaire if you are interested to participate but can not think of ten left-handed members in your family. We depend on volunteers to participate, and we appreciate your enthusiasm!

Genetics of Handedness is a research project carried out at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, and is led by Dr Clyde Francks

Last checked 2014-08-22 by Clyde Francks
Language and Genetics

 

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