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What can we learn about cognition from studying handedness? Insights from cognitive neuroscience


Willems,  Roel M.
Neurobiology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, External Organizations;

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De Nooijer, J. A., & Willems, R. M. (2016). What can we learn about cognition from studying handedness? Insights from cognitive neuroscience. In F. Loffing, N. Hagemann, B. Strauss, & C. MacMahon (Eds.), Laterality in sports: Theories and applications (pp. 135-153). Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Can studying left- and right-handers inform us about cognition? In this chapter, we give an overview of research showing that studying left- and right-handers is informative for understanding the way the brain is organized (i.e., lateralized), as there appear to be differences between left- and right-handers in this respect, but also on the behavioral level handedness studies can provide new insights. According to theories of embodied cognition, our body can influence cognition. Given that left- and right-handers use their bodies differently, this might reflect their performance on an array of cognitive tasks. Indeed, handedness can have an influence on, for instance, what side of space we judge as more positive, the way we gesture, how we remember things, and how we learn new words. Laterality research can, therefore, provide valuable information as to how we act and why