Handedness and Brain Development.

Your child’s hand preference can shed light on the progress of their overall brain growth.

Handedness is one of the easiest and most accepted way to prove that each brain may look similar, but can express individually. In fact, even most radiologists cannot look at an image of a brain and tell you a person’s hand preference. It has been suspected for years that hand dominance can play into someone’s skill set. These increased skill abilities can be as simple as being more inclined in art style activities (left handed people) or numbers (right handed people). Of course, this does not mean those are the only options, but can prove once again that each hemisphere is specialized in certain activities more than the other.

During the first year or so of life our brains are simply focused on growth and development. In these first days of life specialization has not even begun to emerge. This means that each task a child performs should be completed equally on both sides. This includes; rolling, swatting at objects, breastfeeding, grasping, and any other movements big or small. Towards the end of the first year, and heading into the second a child begins to gain a handed preference. This is a very important milestone to be completed, because it shows that their brain has developed to the point of specialization.

Besides just a handed preference we should have a dominant ear, eye, and foot! All of these should be on the same side in order to show proper differentiation. Now this instantly raises a red flag for many when they think about people that are ambidextrous. Some individuals, including myself, share skill sets with either hand or either foot. When it comes to sports these athletes are looked at as “lucky” to have the ability to throw with either hand or bat from either side of the plate to throw off a pitcher. Although these traits may come in handy when it comes to athletics or simple tricks, this actually is a bad thing to see. With a short review in the literature you will find that people who are ambidextrous have an increased chance of many mental diseases, MS, some chronic diseases, and even earlier death!

This should be truly eye opening to see that when the brain is not working in coherence with itself the issues that can potentially arise. Of course, many of these studies have smaller cohorts and at times are not reproducible in further trials. But just the mere fact that someone has made any kind of correlation shows that brain specialization and development is vital in order to live a long and happy life. This is true no matter if you or your child expresses issues like ADHD, SPD, ODD, dyslexia, or not. It can simply just show because they kick a ball with their left foot and throw a ball with their right.

This is not a scare tactic, but simply an idea to bring to light that most people are not aware of. Brain differentiation/development goes hand and hand with sided preference. If dominance does not show to be equal side to side then that means most likely their brain is immature in some areas, and they likely still have primitive reflexes or some areas in the brain that need to be worked on. Luckily our brains are “plastic” which means they have the ability to grow, develop, and repair themselves until the day that we die.

When these areas are helped through the development process or weaker areas in the brain are worked on, sometimes things will equal out to one side. The more I learned about this I realized that my own brain has some developmental issues, through performing therapy on myself my eye dominance actually changed! Most of the time in older kids and adults large changes in hand or foot preference most likely will not happen but sometimes in younger kids especially, these will be seen as specialization occurs.

Whether your children are young or old, keeping an eye on their overall development is the best way to ensure their success in life. This also includes being informed on signs to look for to track if issues arise. Remember, for the most part no one spends more time with your children than you. If you suspect something strange or potentially problematic, spend the time to find an answer from a licensed healthcare provider that will hear you out.

As always if you or someone you know is experiencing issues that they are looking for answers for do not hesitate to reach out to Dr. Jake to set up an appointment or free consult.

Dr. Jacob Boraas

Functional Healing Institute

Drjakefhi@gmail.com