Could forcing yourself to write with BOTH hands make you smarter? Experts remain divided over bizarre brain-training technique 

  • Handedness remains one of the biggest mysteries in neuroscience
  • Some consultancies suggest becoming ambidextrous can boost memory
  • But experts have told MailOnline the evidence behind this is not robust

If you had the choice to be able to write with both hands rather than one, you might think this would also make your brain work faster.

This is the premise sold by companies over the world, who sell 'brain training' activities promising becoming ambidextrous might also make people faster at arithmetic or even better at exams. 

But experts have said the reality is much more complicated than that, and evidence suggests there is no link between ambidexterity and brain function.

You might think that being able to write with both hands would make your brain work faster. This premise is sold by companies around the world, who sell 'brain training' activities promising becoming ambidextrous might also make you faster at arithmetic

You might think that being able to write with both hands would make your brain work faster. This premise is sold by companies around the world, who sell 'brain training' activities promising becoming ambidextrous might also make you faster at arithmetic

Whether ambidexterity is linked to an increase in brain power is a complicated question.

But experts told MailOnline the simple answer is training people to become ambidextrous is unlikely to be of much benefit.

Handedness, a preference for using one hand over another, remains one of the biggest mysteries in neuroscience.

The way the brain works is fundamentally connected with 'hemispheric bias' - the way different functions are associated with the left or right side of the brain.

Some scientists believe the choice to use the left hand over the right is influenced by the way this hemispheric bias developed in the womb, when the fundamental structures of the brain were first formed.

Whether someone is right or left-handed has some relation to genetics, but this exact relationship is unclear.

A study in May found a significant correlation between people's handedness and their ability to perform arithmetic tasks

A study in May found a significant correlation between people's handedness and their ability to perform arithmetic tasks

BRAIN-TRAINING CLAIMS 

Whole Brain Power Consulting is 'a revolutionary new brain training program,' developed by Michael Lavery, who describes himself as a 'pioneer in the field of applied neuroscience and brain function'.

Through a set of 'simple ambidextrous skill training, penmanship drills and memory drills,' it promises 'to supercharge your mental circuits to boost your memory, beat stress, sharpen your thinking, lift your mood, sleep better and much much more'.

'Numerous websites further suggest that training yourself to use your non-dominant hand can “unleash creativity”' wrote neuroscientist and freelance writer Mo Costandi, in The Guardian.

'While it is true that brain structure and function can be dramatically altered by new experiences and various kinds of training... the question of how ambidexterity training affects brain function is still largely unexplored,' Mr Costandi said.

Researchers say the evidence suggests ambidexterity, sometimes called mixed-handedness, can even have the opposite effect.

'There is certainly a genetic factor,' Dr Giovanni Sala, a psychologist from the University of Liverpool, told MailOnline.

'However, it seems that when there is not a definite genetic pattern, the exposure to the environment is influential.'

There is also the fact most computers, scissors and knives, for example, are designed for right-handed people.

'That's the reason why left-handers tend to be less lateralized: they live in a world designed for right-handers,' Dr Sala said.

'Thus they have to use their right hand much more than right-handers have to use their left hand.'

Regardless of whether someone was born right or left-handed, another question surrounds whether people who can write with both hands have better 'brain power'. 

There are some companies suggesting brain training to make an individual become ambidextrous can also boost their brain power.

For example, Whole Brain Power Consulting is 'a revolutionary new brain training program,' developed by Michael Lavery, who describes himself as a 'pioneer in the field of applied neuroscience and brain function'.

A study of 47,000 people in the UK and US in 2014 indicated left-handers are at a disadvantage in the workplace and earn 12 per cent less over the course of a lifetime. One in eight people favour their left hand over their right

A study of 47,000 people in the UK and US in 2014 indicated left-handers are at a disadvantage in the workplace and earn 12 per cent less over the course of a lifetime. One in eight people favour their left hand over their right

LEFT-HANDERS EARN LESS

A 2014 study of 47,000 people indicated left-handers are at a disadvantage at work. 

It found people who favour their left hand earn 12 per cent less over their lifetime.

The researchers said the study dispelled the myth that 'lefties' are more likely to be gifted than their peers.

The reasons for the disparity are unclear but economists suggest people who are left-handed may be at a fundamental cognitive disadvantage.

The data suggests left-handed children are more likely to have learning issues.

Through a set of 'simple ambidextrous skill training, penmanship drills and memory drills,' it promises 'to supercharge your mental circuits to boost your memory, beat stress, sharpen your thinking, lift your mood, sleep better and much much more'.

'Numerous websites further suggest that training yourself to use your non-dominant hand can “unleash creativity”' wrote neuroscientist and freelance writer Mo Costandi, in The Guardian.

'While it is true that brain structure and function can be dramatically altered by new experiences and various kinds of training... the question of how ambidexterity training affects brain function is still largely unexplored,' Mr Costandi said.

Researchers say the evidence suggests ambidexterity, sometimes called mixed-handedness, can even have the opposite effect.

'In general, large population studies have shown no systematic relationship between variations in handedness and variations in intelligence,' Professor Clare Porac, from Penn State University, author of 'Laterality: Exploring the enigma of left-handedness' told MailOnline.

'If anything, mixed-handedness, is associated with lower levels of cognitive performance when compared to the cognitive performance of consistent right- and left-handers.'  

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