Laterality, Cross-dominance & Ambidexterity

Right, from what I've been reading, here's what it all means:
Laterality is the preference that most humans show for one side of their body over the other ie. Hand, Eye, Leg, and Ear. Cross-dominance is a term used to describe the mixed handedness of some people - they may do certain things in a left-handed manner, but other things as a right hander. It can also be called Mixed Dominance, Cross Laterality or Mixed Laterality, and can also mean that a person's dominant hand, eye, leg, and ear are not all on the same side of the body. I don't think there is any particular rule as to which situations these 4 terms can be applied to, as I have seen them used interchangeably on various sites.
Ambidexterity is a form of cross-dominance in which a person is able to perform tasks equally with either hand.

It has been long known that the Right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, and vice versa.

My fascination extends to left-handed people. It is one of the first things I notice about someone that I meet.

I will let you follow the links below to explore this further - there are many interesting theories as to why these conditions occur, but in the end, the truth is: we don't really know!

My Own Mixed-laterality Experiences:

I remember as a child being forced to do certain things right-handed when I strayed down the path of the lefty. Throughout childhood and early school, I behaved as any normal right-handed person should. In later school years, I discovered I could write equally well with my left hand, and, indeed, perform many other tasks adeptly with my left hand. There are some things I now feel better doing left-handed - using a computer mouse, shuffling cards - but most things I continue to do right handed, unless a situation occurs where using the other hand works out more convenient.

using a mouse left-handed
Using a mouse left-handed.

Now many of you may be thinking "That's pretty cool", but there is a downside. I often have to stop and think about any task I am performing, and decide which hand to use, and which movements it must perform when beginning the task. The best example is when I sign my name. I have always done this right-handed, but I still have to stop for about 2 seconds after the pen has touched the page, and think "which way am I going?". During a normal day, my left and right hand share the writing about 50/50.

My left eye is dominant, and my right leg is dominant. Not sure about which ear is dominant though...

I have found some information about Mixed Laterality where I break the normal rules:

1) People with mixed laterality are clumsy, and make poor athletes.
Well, that's certainly not my experience. I excelled at track and field at school, holding records for sprinting and high-jump.

2) People with mixed laterality are easily flustered.
Good grief, not me at all - just ask my wife :-)

Just goes to show that there are always exceptions to the norm, and even exceptions to the exceptions. Maybe we will eventually figure out the mysteries of the human brain, but not in my life-time I think!

Bibliography & Links:

Page last updated 2006-05-25