Hand preference and performance in 20 pairs of monozygotic twins with discordant handedness
The differences between right (RH) and left (LH) handers reported in the literature on fine motor tasks, has traditionally been interpreted relative to purported functioning of the cerebral hemispheres. However, conclusive evidence for performance differences which are intrinsic to handedness per se is difficult to obtain unless left and right handers are compared who are similar in their genetic and environmental background. The present study therefore, employed a monozygotic (MZ) twin design which minimizes differences in genetic variation between the two groups. Forty female monozygotic twins (20 pairs) were selected on the basis of discordance of writing hand. Their laterality preferences were assessed and they were tested for differences on hand performance tasks (dot filling, finger tapping, and peg moving). The results revealed that on the hand and foot preference inventories, the right-handers were more strongly lateralized than their left-handed sisters, and that the left-handers had greater variation in their laterality scores. There were substantial correlations between preference and performance scores. The analyses not only revealed the obvious strong main effects of writing hand on performance tasks, but interaction effects of handedness on the peg-moving task. The dot filling task differentiated the writing versus non-writing hand considerably better than either of the other two performance tasks. However, no evidence was found to indicate that twins who wrote with their left hands showed poorer performance than their right-handed twin sisters.