Multiple trajectories in the developmental psychobiology of human handedness

Adv Child Dev Behav. 2013;45:227-60. doi: 10.1016/b978-0-12-397946-9.00009-9.


We show that handedness is a product of a multifaceted biosocial developmental process that begins prenatally and continues into adulthood. Although right-handedness predominates, handedness varies continuously across the population. Therefore, our phrase "multiple trajectories"refers to both differences in developmental pathways that can lead to similarities in handedness and similarities in pathways that can lead to differences in handedness. The task for the researcher is to identify how, when, and for what actions the trajectory of handedness development can be maintained or changed for an individual. Given the complexity of these developmental pathways, it is likely that the asymmetric sensorimotor activity that occurs during the development of handedness influences other hemispheric variations in neural processing. Indeed, researchers have investigated how handedness relates to cognitive, social, and emotional functioning because handedness represents different patterns of hemispheric specialization. Although the story of handedness development is not complete, it is well worth pursuing because it makes the development of brain-behavior relations more transparent, especially for hemispheric differences in function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Developmental Biology / methods*
  • Fetal Development / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality / genetics
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Gene-Environment Interaction*
  • Humans