Imaging Genomics

Imaging Genomics research group

The Imaging Genomics research group, led by Prof. dr Clyde Francks, studies the genetics of language, brain disorders and laterality of the brain. For most people, the left and right sides of the human brain specialise in performing different functions and processing different types of information - in fact, much of our cognition is relatively lateralized to one side or the other.

Language is an excellent example of this lateralized function; in most people, several component processes are performed in the left side of the brain. The Imaging Genomics group is especially interested in genes that are involved in establishing how the two hemispheres develop and function differently, for example by affecting how the nervous system develops in the embryo.

Although it has been established that left-right asymmetry plays an important role in the way in which the human brain is organised, very little is known about the underlying molecular mechanisms. Our team of researchers is working hard to uncover new knowledge in this area. To find out more about what we are currently working on, visit our Projects page.

This research group is part of the Language and Genetics Department. The group is funded by the Max Planck Society and additional grants from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.



Clyde Francks

Senior Investigator
Language and Genetics Department
+31 24 3521929
Clyde [dot] Francks [at] mpi [dot] nl
Press coverage (click here to expand)

BBC News, April 2024

Why is only 10 percent of the population left-handed? (News video)


National Public Radio (USA), April 2024

Genes play a very small role in determining left-handedness, research finds (Radio interview)


Reuters, April 2024

Gene involved in cell shape offers clues on left-handedness


Nature News, April 2024

Right- or left-handed? Protein in embryo cells might help decide


April 2024

Linking left-handedness to rare genetic variants: News articles in many languages and countries


genomeweb, February 2023

Large-Scale Study Reveals Genetics of White Matter Connections in the Human Brain


Technology Networks, February 2023

White Matter Structure and Genetics May Reveal Links to Brain-Related Disorders, November 2021

Los cerebros de las personas zurdas dedican más neuronas al control de la mano izquierda


Clarín, November 2021

Zurdos: explican por qué escriben con la mano izquierda


Yahoo!News, November 2021

Les particularités du cerveau des gauchers


Newsweek, October 2019



ScienceAlert, October 2019

People With Autism Have More Symmetrical Brains. Here's What That Could Mean


MedicalXpress, October 2019

People with autism have a more symmetrical brain


Psychology Today, February 2019

Left-Handedness Is Influenced by Early Life Factors


ScienceDaily, February 2017

Handedness arises from genes in the spinal cords of embryos


Medical Daily, February 2017

Leftie Or Rightie? Your Nervous System Develops Preferred Handedness As An Embryo


Medical Xpress, July 2016

Decoding biological asymmetry


Max Planck Forschung, July 2016

'Asymmetrical matter' (article featuring our research group)

German language version: 'Das schafft unser Gehirn mit links'


TheScientist, October 2015

Lefties, Language, and Lateralization


ScienceDaily, February 2014

Call to scientists: Stop excluding left-handed people from scientific studies




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