Friday, November 6, 2009

Adventures in Body Mapping

I found this article, through my friend Celia, called "Vast Right Arm Conspiracy? Study Suggests Handedness May Affect Body Perception," and it's worth reading if you're left-handed, or have any background in reading phenomenology. It suggests that there are significant differences in how left-handers and right-handers "map" their bodies. Here's the basic idea:
in left-handed people, there is an equal amount of brain area devoted to the left and right arms in both hemispheres. However, for right-handed people, there is more cortical area associated with right arm than the left.
What does this mean? The article goes on to discuss how that, while lefties tend to perceive their arms as an equal length, right-handers think that their right arm is longer, and even that their right hand is bigger, than their corresponding left-sided appendages.

Now, as a left-hander, I understand the results of the study. But I can't say I 'get it.' You mean to tell me that 7/8ths of the human population wandering around this planet think that they have a longer right arm? Haven't they ever stretched and seen that the two arms match, and mirror each other?

What would Maurice Merleau-Ponty say about this?


Stacey said...

As a right-hander I can definitely see where these results came from. I tend to perceive my right arm as being stronger and better in every way just because it's dominant. And even though I can see that it is exactly the same size as my left, it still seems longer in my mind's eye.

Devin Zane Shaw said...

I'm still puzzled. That kind of understanding of one's handedness never occurred to me until I read this article.