Most of us have one dominant hand. We find it nigh on impossible to do very delicate or dextrous activities with our other-hand. This seems like an apparent weakness, and a rather odd one when you first think about it.

Cursory internet searches revealed unexpected findings. One website said it has mostly negative effects on the brain. However I don't trust the source at all.

I'd be interested to know about the "story" about the good and bad of ambidextrous physiology. Particularly, I am interested in the neuroscience of ambidextrous people.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ It would also be interesting to know whether our ancestors used both the hands and using just one hand is recently evolved $\endgroup$
    – biogirl
    Apr 29, 2014 at 15:58
  • $\begingroup$ @biogirl great comment needs more attention from everyone $\endgroup$ Jul 1, 2014 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ @agha rehan abbas Thanks ! Thinking about something from evolution point of view always helps. $\endgroup$
    – biogirl
    Jul 1, 2014 at 17:50
  • $\begingroup$ @biogirl It's a contentious issue, but chimps do indeed display handed-ness for tasks like termite fishing. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Nov 24, 2015 at 12:27
  • $\begingroup$ One side effect of being ambidextrous is that I also find it very easy to read mirror writing. This may seem like an advantage but in practice it can cause difficulties. I frequently find myself pushing glass doors when I should be pulling because I have inadvertently read the instructions through the glass on the opposite side of the door and my brain has not registered that it is the wrong way round. $\endgroup$
    – user20562
    Dec 10, 2015 at 8:40

1 Answer 1


I think that the advantages of using both hands with equal ease is quite evident whether it be sports, at your work or while you are doing your household chores.

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An obvious advantage is using both hands to write or draw with both at the same time.

I would be focusing on the disadvantages that may be faced.

1) Ambidextrous people are more prone to suffer from Synaesthesia (reference)

2) They are likely to possess (not necessarily) the LRRTM1 gene which is linked with Schizophrenia (reference).

3) They score lesser in intelligence testing (reference).

4) Mixed handed children are more likely to suffer from ADHD (reference).

5) Mixed handedness is associated with greater age-related decline (reference)

6) They are easier to anger and influence emotionally (reference).

There are quite a few studies that have pointed out that it may not be all that good a condition but Leonardo da Vinci who was probably the most diversely talented man who ever lived is said to have been ambidextrous. He apparently could draw with one hand and write with the other at the same time, so I would have to say that the positives of the condition are extremely good (reference).


This probably qualifies as a second question :-D but I just saw a thought by biogirl in the comments section on "whether our ancestors used both the hands and using just one hand is recently evolved" and she has a point there. From a study publlished in 1977 I quote.

The predominance of the right hand over the left was also reported among Egyptian art forms 3,500 to 4,500 years old, where the ratio of left- to right-handers was 9:111 and 5:100, respectively. However, going further back using the "Draw-a-Man Test," found that ancient paleolithic man, from 1,750,000 to 8,000 years B.C., was probably either more ambidextrous or that there was a greater proportion of left-handers than there are now. (reference)

Also from a study titled "Evolutionary Back Grounds of Human Left Handedness", the authors concluded that

For most manual tasks, especially those tasks involved in competitive activities, increasing performance by the specialization of one hand is certainly adaptive. Aggressive interactions are responsible for fundamental selection pressures acting during primate and human evolution. The higher prevalence of right-handedness might well be due to a previously existing cerebral bias. But the specialization of one forelimb leading to right or left-handedness is better viewed as the result of natural selection. (reference)


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