science | August 22, 2013

Lefties, Rejoice! Science Speaker Maria Konnikova On Creativity & Handedness

Last week, approximately 10 percent of the population celebrated Left-Handers’ Day. Maria Konnikova, a science speaker and psychologist, just published an article in The New Yorker that will give lefties even more reason to celebrate their uniqueness. Not only has new research shown that being a left-hander doesn't necessarily live up to the "sinister" stereotypes of the past, but, it might also mean you're more creative than your right-handed counterparts.

Konnikova says that researchers of the past may not have been far off the mark when they looked to a person's handedness as a marker of the inner-workings of their brain. "Those workings have more to do with cognitive achievement than any inclination to commit highway robbery," she points out, however. Most of the data pointing to left-handers being prone to criminal behavior or neurological behavior has been discredited today. What's evolved in place of those old notions is that a person who is dominantly left-handed has been seen to perform better on certain cognitive and creative tasks than right-handers.

What's the explanation? Konnikova says there's evidence to suggest that the "callosum—the bundle of fibers that connects the brain’s hemispheres," is somewhat larger in left-handers, creating a greater connectivity between the two parts of the brain. There's also an environmental thesis: Left-handers constantly have to adapt and improvise in situations that are often designed for right-handed people. "[A] recent study has demonstrated an increased cognitive flexibility among the ambidextrous and the left-handed," Konnikova also notes, "and lefties have been found to be over-represented among architects, musicians, and art and music students (as compared to those studying science)." While none of these studies are absolute for all lefties and all righties, the next time you feel a little different, remember that: "Michelangelo and da Vinci were left-handed . . . as were three of the last four occupants of the White House; the only right-handed President since the end of the Cold War has been George W. Bush." So for all the left-handed people out there—you're in good company.

As the foremost expert on Sherlock Holmes at our speakers bureau, Konnikova has honed the sleuth's signature methods of observation, logical deduction, and ever-present mindfulness and presents them in both her book Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes and her keynote speeches. She also shows us how to apply these techniques in our everyday lives. Hire speaker Maria Konnikova by contacting The Lavin Agency.

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education | August 21, 2013