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Researchers at Oxford University find gene for left-handedness
An international group of scientists, led by a team from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, have discovered a gene that increases the chance of being left handed. The study is published on-line today by the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
The research, which involved over 40 scientists from 20 research centres around the world, revealed a gene called LRRTM1; the first to be discovered which has an effect on handedness. Although little is known about LRRTM1, the Oxford team suspects that it modifies the development of asymmetry in the human brain. Asymmetry is an important feature of the human brain, with the left side usually controlling speech and language, and the right side controlling emotion. In left-handers this pattern is often reversed. There is also evidence that asymmetry of the brain was an important feature during human evolution; the brains of our closest relatives, the apes, are more symmetrical than humans' and they do not show a strong handedness.
The Left-Handers Club welcome these new findings, as a genetic link has long been considered the most likely cause of left-handedness yet a specific gene has until now remained elusive. This is the first potential genetic influence on human handedness to be identified, and the first putative genetic effect on variability in human brain asymmetry. LRRTM1 is a candidate...