The left hand knows what the right hand just did

13 October, 2017

"The human hand has an extremely long history both as an implement of social interaction and as the object of social interaction and as the object of social attention.  Nuances of meaning not conveyed by speech are communicated by gesture in every culture and language.  Ritual codes pertaining to membership, rank, and duty are acknowledged and enforced through signs, salutes and postures of hands.  Adornments of the fingers and hands convey intimate and sometimes complex messages about personal identity and attachments."

Frank Wilson, Neurologist

My grandmother, was born left-handed in 1937.  Her father was a Victorian disciplinarian and from a young age she showed signs of being left-handed.  Since medieval times, left handedness was considered a disability and pupils were made to sit on their left hand and write with the right.  My grandmother had her left hand bound with bandages to prevent her from writing, I remember her telling me she wasn't very good at school, but I also remember her being very intelligent and quick witted.  Two generations ago our society tried to prevent a lifelong struggle with this 'defect' If you have ever tried using your non dominant hand, it feels clumsy, slow and weak compared to the dominant hand, which is dexterous, quick and strong.  I hammer a nail into the wall with my left hand but open a jar with my right.  This is because my left is stronger and my right more nimble.  I play all sports left handed.  Science is proving that we have billions of synaptic and neural connections between our brains and our hands, some of these connections we are born with and others are formed through our use of the hand - my muscles remember.  When these connections are severed and we are forced to use our opposite hand, new connections will need to be made and the old ones will die.  It is literally like putting a 10 year old child back in terms of their learning by 5 years.  As science is proving that we experience the world with our entire whole body and brain and perceive based upon passed experiences and memory, the trauma of losing your dominant hand coupled with the fact you have to re-learn and re-wire circuits from the brain to the new hands, it is easy to understand why my grandmother struggled at school because her biochemical and neuromuscular connections were severed.  When I draw with my left hand, my right hand supports the other.  I use my right to move the paper around the table so the correct angle can be achieved for the pen in my left hand to achieve the shading I desire.  My grandmother would have also found that previously strong connections in her left hand, had to fire and wire from scratch to support the newly dominant right hand.  This would have meant learning a whole new way of organising and functioning the brain.