Hand preference is a prominent behavioural trait linked to human brain asymmetry. A handful of genetic variants have been reported to associate with hand preference or quantitative measures related to it. Most of these reports were on the basis of limited sample sizes, by current standards for genetic analysis of complex traits. Here we performed a genome-wide association analysis of hand preference in the large, population-based UK Biobank cohort (N = 331,037). We used gene-set enrichment analysis to investigate whether genes involved in visceral asymmetry are particularly relevant to hand preference, following one previous report. We found no evidence supporting any of the previously suggested variants or genes, nor that genes involved in visceral laterality have a role in hand preference. It remains possible that some of the previously reported genes or pathways are relevant to hand preference as assessed in other ways, or else are relevant within specific disorder populations. However, some or all of the earlier findings are likely to be false positives, and none of them appear relevant to hand preference as defined categorically in the general population. Our analysis did produce a small number of novel, significant associations, including one implicating the microtubule-associated gene MAP2 in handedness.
Conflict of interest statement
The authors declare no competing interests.
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