Monday, December 11, 2006

Left-handed people good gamers

Left-handed people appear to have an edge when undertaking complex tasks:
Left-handed people can think quicker when carrying out tasks such as playing computer games or playing sport, say Australian researchers.

Connections between the left and right hand sides or hemispheres of the brain are faster in left-handed people, a study in Neuropsychology shows.

The study took 100 people, 80 predominately right-handed and 20 predominately left-handed, and found that the more left-handed a person is, the better the person is at processing information across the two hempispheres of the brain.

I wonder if the results are merely proxies for the two-point or so IQ advantage that is associated with left-handedness, or if it is something else. While it's tempting to speculate that left-handedness' intelligence advantage might run along the same lines as Ashkenazi IQ, and also be associated with brain disorders like Tay-Sachs that are caused too much material in the brain, but to the contrary, left-handedness is associated with diseases like autism and Down's syndrome.

Also, left-handedness is purportedly on the rise. Estimates are all over the place, but the contemporary best guess seems to be between 12%-15%, up from the historical one-in-ten. I wonder if this has any relationship to the Flynn effect (the phenomenon of moderate IQ increases across populations over time), or if the increase is simply a result of the social acceptability of left-handedness today compared to its undesirability in the past when children were frequently forced to become proficient with the use of their right hands even when naturally left-handed. Left-handedness is partly genetic but apparently partly random or environmental as well (the identical twin of a southpaw has a 76% chance of being left-handed as well).

A great way to see how strong the effect is on the ground would be to survey top gamers. Warcraft III and Warcraft II, its predecessor, would enhance the dot tests used in the study--the real-time strategy games are like complex chess matches on steroids and without pauses to fully assess the situation. The simultaneous processing of lots of information and the transmission of that information into responses characterizes these games to a tee. And respondents would almost certainly be truthful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you Google or Yahoo "left handers having an advantage in combat" or something close to it, you get tons of links citing anecdotal evidence. Does being left handed make you more effective in real fighting? I have no idea. However, I recalled reading this from Ralph Zumbro and finally found the quote:

"One of the oddball things we discovered in RVN was that if you add a few left-handers to your point squad, it has a better chance of surviving an ambush because they habitually carry their weapons pointed to the right."

I know Zumbro has seen some tough fights in his day so I'll take his word for it. In any event, very interesting, at least to me. They ought to survey military personnel on this topic, it might save some lives.