Left-Handedness and Schizophrenia?

Growing up, we become defined by which hand we use and for what. In other words: you are either a "lefty" or a "righty". But who knew that such a characteristic could lead to deeper, more biological roots. Researchers at Yale Child Study Center found possible correlations between left-handedness and Schizophrenia. How could this connection be made between two characteristics on opposite sides of the spectrum? It all has to do with percentages. Researchers claim, "10% of the population is left-handed" and 40% of those diagnosed with Schizophrenia are left-handed as well (Sifferlin,TIME). Now there is also 11% of "lefties" that are affected by mood disorders in the population. If you look more closely at these percentages, it is evident that both the percentages of lefties affected by mood disorders and the population of lefties are quite similar (10 and 11 percent). This acted as a launchpad for scientists to start their research. 

First things first, however, what exactly is Schizophrenia? Medical News Today defines the diagnosis as "a mental disorder that generally appears in late adolescence or early adulthood - however, it can emerge at any time in life. It is one of many brain diseases that may include delusions, loss of personality (flat affect), confusion, agitation, social withdrawal, psychosis, and bizarre behavior." (Schizophrenia,Medical News Today). 

What is occurring inside the brain of schizophrenics is that their neurotransmitters, that normally send messages to and from the brain, are affected and unable to transport messages properly. So how could this share a connection with those that are left-handed?

Recorded in the SAGE Open Journal, the study was conducted using 107 patients currently being treated at an outpatient psychiatric clinic. Neurologists proposed that because the brain is "asymmetrically divided when it comes to major skills and functions such as language and emotions" lefties are known to use the right side of the brain more often (SAGE, TIME). This side of the brain is associated with mood and emotions. However, because lefties are engaging their right side of the brain more so than the left, they are lacking to engage their language and personality traits. Lefties therefore can suffer from "higher rates of misconnections or failures in the neural network that then contribute to developmental issues or disorders."(Sifferlin,TIME).

The study was strictly observational and lacked to include results or actions of the patients mentioned before. The hypothesis that left-handedness is associated with Schizophrenia is a well-thought out proposal, however should be tested in order to back it up. I wish the author of this article went more in depth with the study and included how it was conducted. For future reference, I suggest more subjects to be tested with a wide range of characteristics: some right-handed, some left-handed, some diagnosed with Schizo, some not. That way researchers would be able to make connections to help support their hypothesis and fully accept it. 

As for now, there is no reason for a rational left-handed individual to worry. There may be a correlation, but no definite causation as of right now. And just so you left-handers don't stress too much over this article, here's an article of famous lefties to make you feel cooler for your unique characteristic!

  1. Sifferlin, Alexandra, and Alexandra Sifferlin. "How Left-handedness Is Connected to Schizophrenia." Time. Time, 1 Nov. 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2013
  2. Nordqvist, Christian. "What Is Schizophrenia?" Medical News Today. MediLexicon International, 20 Oct. 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2013.
  3. "Famous Left-Handers." Famous Left-Handers. M.K. Holder, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2013.

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