Glossary

Broca's area The location in the brain, typically the left hemisphere, that controls speech production.

diffuse control system This refers to control of a function or behavior that involves a number of brain centers and pathways.

genetically fixed traits Genetically determined traits that are characteristic of a particular species.

pathological handedness Handedness that results after some pathological event, such as birth stress-related events, disturbs the natural development of right- or left-handedness.

rare trait marker theory A theoretical and statistical model that explains why relatively rare, but apparently benign, traits in a species are often associated with pathological conditions.

sidedness The preferential use of the right or left hand, foot, eye, or ear.

soft sign A behavior or symptom that may suggest the presence of an underlying neurological or physiological pathology.

Wernicke's area The location in the brain, typically the left hemisphere, that controls speech comprehension.

Handedness refers to the fact that most people consistently use the same hand for tasks in which skill and dexterity are required and only one hand can be used. Thus, a person who almost always uses his or her right hand when writing, throwing a ball, cutting with a knife, or using a hammer would be defined as being right-handed. Estimates of the number of right-handers in the population are between 88 and 92%. Given such an overwhelming bias toward the right in humans, it is not surprising that researchers have asked the following questions: If, as a species, we appear to be programmed to be right-handed, then why are there any lefthanders? Do left-handers differ from right-handers in any ways other than their handedness? Are there any advantages or disadvantages in being left-handed?

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