Do left-handers meditate in their right minds?

When I was in high school, one of my teachers joked that left-handers are the only people in their right minds – because control of our bodies crosses hemispheres, so a left-dominant person actually has a right-dominant brain (or motor cortex, at least).

When I was in college, I learned that my left-handedness was going to prevent me from volunteering for any brain imaging studies. Although for most of the population language is processed in the left hemisphere of the brain, the odds of right-lateralized language are somewhat higher in left-handers, and most neuroscientists sensibly want to the avoid the headaches associated with odd data.

And last week, I learned that even my emotional brain activity might be flipped. I was investigating how even a few hours of meditation might make it easier to get into the left-dominant brain pattern associated with a good mood, and I discovered that for left-handers the good mood is actually often a right-dominant state. This should not mean that left-handers meditating get put into a bad mood, mind you; just that they should hope that meditation helps put their right brains in ascendance, not their left.

But perhaps I am not in my “right mind” after all. According to the Edinburg Handedness Survey I’m perfectly ambidextrous (and according to the Annett Hand Preference Questionnaire, I’m a righty), so the odds are pretty strong that I’m a left-language, right-positive-emotion kind of person just like most everyone else.

Unless and until I hook myself up to an EEG to check for brain asymmetry while I meditate, I will never know which hemisphere does what, or even know for sure that meditation is having any effect on my brain at all. I like that.

Although I will probably keep using the “right mind” joke, just for fun.


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