Hands, Ears, Brain Dominance, and Cell Phone Use


Austin Frakt, who apparently has a better memory for my blog than I do, emails today to draw my attention to a new study, “Hemispheric Dominance and Cell Phone Use,” which is designed to figure out which ear we use when we’re talking on cell phones. I was hoping this study would confirm that we left-eared folks are more charming and intelligent than the rest of you lot who use your right ears, but no such luck. In fact, the authors didn’t really conclude much of anything. They found that 68 percent of right-handed people use their right ear and 72 percent of left-handed people use their left ear.

And, um, that was about it. As you probably know, right-handed people generally use the left side of their brains for language processing, and vice-versa for lefties. [Nope. See update below.] So the researchers wanted to find out if auditory hemispheric dominance (AHD) matched up with language hemispheric dominance (LHD). It doesn’t: “Our study suggests that AHD may differ from LHD owing to the difference in handedness and cell phone ear use.”

Alternatively, most people don’t really care much which ear they use, and lefties use their left ear because they’re more comfortable holding their phones in the left hands. Ditto in reverse for righties. All in all, I have to say that this study doesn’t really tell us much, but I figured it was worth a follow-up. Original discussion here.

UPDATE: A meddling neuroscientist emails to tell me I’m a victim of old wives tales. Most people, including most lefties, process language on the left side of their brains. Right-brain language processing is a little more common among lefties, but it’s still a small minority.

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