LRRTM1: A possible gene for left-handedness

As more and more of our genome becomes decoded, I think we’ll begin to see a proliferation of genes identified to unique behaviors that we have had no explanation for. Don’t believe me? Well, I have news that the gene most closely linked to left-handedness has been found.

The discovery has been published in Molecular Psychiatry, under the title, “LRRTM1 on chromosome 2p12 is a maternally suppressed gene that is associated paternally with handedness and schizophrenia.”

Paraphrased from National Geographic News:

“For right-handed people… the right side of the brain usually controls emotion, while the left side of the brain tends to control speech and language.

In left-handers—about 10 percent of the world’s population—the pattern is usually reversed.

“[And] this gene affects the symmetry of the brain,” Clyde Francks said. “LRRTM1 is not essential for left-handedness, but it can be a strong contributing factor.””

The LRRTM1 gene was kinda inadvertently discovered during a study of a hundred families which intended on linking handedness with dyslexic children. LRRTM1 has other impacts on neurological functions, such as possible link to schizophrenia. Here’s more on the process and the impact it has to anthropology and human evolution,

“When the researchers took genetic samples from all the families involved, they noticed that a particular chromosome showed a correlation with handedness.”We then started to study the chromosome in detail and found this gene,” said Francks.

The team now intends to study the gene to try and tease out its full purpose and function.

“We need to find out what role it plays in brain development and at what point it is active, whether it is during fetal development, childhood, or adulthood,” Francks said.

Paul Corry, director of public affairs at Rethink, a U.K.-based mental health charity, says, “LRRTM1 “may turn out to be part of a complex relationship between a range of genes and environmental factors that lead to people developing schizophrenia.”

The gene could also help scientists understand more about how humans evolved.

Most animals have brains that are more symmetric, experts note, including our closest genetic relatives, the apes.

11 thoughts on “LRRTM1: A possible gene for left-handedness

  1. I AM A LEFTY I HOPE I DO NOT HAVE THAT GENE. I AM EXTREMELY CREATIVE AND SILLY. WHAT MAKES YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE THAT GENE. I CAN ALSO USE MY RIGHT HAND. I AM TOLD I AM VERY DIFFERENT WITH A CREATIVE MIND.

  2. What I find interesting is any connection between this discovery and Julian Jaynes’s “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind” where he postulated the absence of what we consider true consciousness (the “narrative I”) in our “sapient” progenitors. Everything accomplished through a directive voice instructing the individual what to do, how to feel. Essentially our ancestors were what we would describe as schizhophrenic. Upheaval of events more than 4 thousand years ago and the rise of written, metaphorical language helped superseded (but not replace) this directive voice with the narrative I. Essentially, our asymmetric brains are set up to be schizoid, only this higher functioning idempotent operand “I” protects modern sapient from a very uncomfortable realization – he is the sole creature divided from his world through himself. Could this explain our preoccupations dividing one between beautiful transcendent dream and an often ugly and nauseating immanence – our aspirations toward heavenly utopia and begrudged acceptance of our telluric dystopia? Does it explain why sober John Doe may be overheard quizzing himself aloud in the morning as to what his drunken counterpart did with his car keys last night, the same sorry individual he must rouse to travel X miles through a morning gridlock to a job he agrees is menticidal? Is posing an unvoiced question to yourself “normal” or merely a vestigial aspect of this underlying schizophrenia, which is an awful truth? Is the human problem in fact our proposal of fact secretly subverted by this insidious mark of opposition – “?”

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