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Brain Dominance and Your Cell Phone

Does brain dominance affect which hand you use to hold your cell phone? That’s the conclusion of a recent research study, the findings of which were published in May 2013 issue of JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery.

The study is based on an email survey that was completed by 717 people. It found a strong correlation between a person’s brain dominance and the ear they use to listen to their cell phone: If you hold your phone to your right ear, the study purported, you’re more likely to be left-brain dominant, and vice versa. The study’s authors believe the findings may help us better map the language centers of the brain.

I was surprised by the somewhat oversimplified conclusions, and in fact, our HBDI® data shows this is not an accurate assumption. A comment in the USA Today article by Susan Bookheimer, director of the Staglin Imaging Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at UCLA, about the relationship between handedness and brain dominance is very apt:

Because a fairly equal proportion of right-handers in the study hold their phone with their right hand, and left-handers use their left hand, "The logical conclusion should be that individuals are more likely to hold the phone in their dominant hand than in their non-dominant hand.”

Hand dominance is the primary factor and likely the first explanation of how we use our phone and which ear we use. As to the correlation between hand dominance and brain dominance, the brain is structured in such a way that our handedness is correlated with language center processing: Our ears are split with a bias to the opposite ear. So that means we are using the ear that aligns most of the time. I think a study of ear switching would be fascinating. Are we adjusting to better listen to the loving words in our left ear?

Also missing from this study is the handwriting connection. Handwriting, including the way you hold a pencil, is also related to language processing and has an impact on how we process information — and in an era in which kids no longer learn to write because they are typing and using voice recognition, that impact is decreasing over time. How will our brains process differently?

Only time and more research will tell. In the meantime, the next time you are suffering through a conversation, try switching ears — it just might make a difference!

ThinkAbout Communicating

Tags: Brain Research

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