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UH Researcher Utilizes Simple "Pencil and Paper" Method to Determine Hemisphericity Distributions in Large Groups

Sutdy of university students and professionals to determine

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Bruce E. Morton, (808) 988-6857
Emeritus Professor
Kristen Cabral, (808) 956-5039
Public Information Officer
Posted: Aug 29, 2003

A simple two-handed, line-bisection test known as the "Best Hand Test" can be used to evaluate hemisphericity distributions in large groups, according to a paper published this month in the journal Brain and Cognition by UH Mānoa Emeritus Professor Bruce E. Morton.

A study involving more than 1,000 UH Mānoa students and faculty was conducted, which required subjects to mark the center of 20 lines on two identical sheets of paper, one for their right hand and the other for their left hand, and then answer a few simple questions regarding the use of their hands. Results from the study suggest that an individual‘s career path might in some way be influenced by the behavioral laterality of his or her brain.

This discovery was recognized when it was observed that although the number of right or left brain-oriented male and female students entering the university was about equal, sampling of the hemisphericity of upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, and amongst 15 faculty professions indicated that a progressive sorting had occurred. That is, compared to entering students, astronomers and architects were found to be quite enriched with right brain, big picture-oriented individuals. In contrast, top-down focused professions such as particle physics and microbiology, were found to be enriched with left brain-oriented individuals.

The word "hemisphericity" came to be used, especially in popular psychology, as a convenient term to describe brain laterality differences thought to dictate whether a person‘s thinking and learning style was right hemisphere-oriented or left hemisphere-oriented. Attempts to determine a person‘s hemisphericity have been hampered by lack of agreement upon the meaning of the term, lack of a primary standard for comparison, lack of reliable measurement methods, and lack of certainty that the phenomenon even exists.

However, over the past few years, Morton‘s investigations into hemisphericity and possible assessment methods have developed six independent measures, all of which correlate significantly with each other. The "Best Hand Test" is the latest of these methods to be tested and recognized as a legitimate method for determining hemisphericity orientation when combined with other biophysical methods.