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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.


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. In order to find parts of the genome that might influence handedness, we need to work with families that have ten or more left-handed members, and in which left-handedness is unusually common. The left-handedness can be in your immediate family and also in second and third degree relatives, but needs to be mostly within the same line of the family tree. So please consider your grandparents, cousins, great grandparents and so on. If you come from a family like this, and you think that many of your family members would be willing to give a saliva sample for genetic research, please register with us and answer some questions about the 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.

We depend on volunteer families 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. Please contact for further information.


Last checked 2018-04-26 by Clyde Francks
Language and Genetics


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