Left handedness and immune disorders

Cortex. 1990 Mar;26(1):33-40. doi: 10.1016/s0010-9452(13)80073-1.


The Geschwind-Behan hypothesis that immune disorder (IMD) is more common among left than among right handed persons was tested in a sample of 3080 college students. Subjects indicated, for each of a list of IMDs, whether they: (1) had no reason to believe they had the disorder; (2) thought they might have the disorder; (3) had the disorder diagnosed by a physician; or (4) had had a disorder diagnosed and treated by a physician. Females reported significantly more IMDs than did males. Among females, the distribution of responses across the four response categories was not different for left and right handers, but IMD was significantly higher among left handed females when only the extreme categories were considered. Among males, no handedness effect was seen across the four categories, nor when only the extreme categories were considered. Laterality quotients, from the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory, were unrelated to IMD reports in both sexes. Results provide no real support for the Geschwind-Behan hypothesis. Even in the case of the extreme categories of IMD reports of females, the association of left handedness (for writing) and IMD accounts for only three-tenths of one percent of the variance.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Functional Laterality*
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Immune System Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Immune System Diseases / therapy
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires