Only about 10 percent of the population is left-handed, which may explain why everything from scissors, spiral notebooks, power tools, can openers, and, yes, even the driver’s cup holder are all designed with dominant handedness in mind. But, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Psychology, left-handers actually have the upper hand over their right-handed counterparts in one area—math.
The study tested 2,300 students in primary and secondary schools, who were all asked to perform a variety of numerical and creative tasks, including writing, drawing, and problem solving. Researchers found that left-handers outperformed the others as the math problems got progressively harder, particularly when the students had to apply complex reasoning and logic. As suggested in the study, the link between handedness and and mathematical ability comes down to which parts of the brain are being used. In this case, left-handers’ brains are generally more developed on the right hemisphere, which is the side that controls nonverbal, spatial skills and the left side of the body, as well as visual imagery.
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However, when it came to basic arithmetic, the differences between the two groups of students were miniscule. So it’s safe to assume no matter what hand you use, the expectation is that we all should know the simple functions of adding, subtracting, and multiplying. Duly noted.
As uncommon as the left-handed community may be in the general population, they’re in pretty good company with some of our nation’s top leaders and Southern elite. George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama are all lucky lefties.
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And, clearly, they all have displayed some proficiency in math— at least when it came to managing the federal budget.