Intelligence and handedness: Meta-analyses of studies on intellectually disabled, typically developing, and gifted individuals


Understanding the relationship between cerebral laterality and intelligence is important in elucidating the neurological underpinnings of individual differences in cognitive abilities. A widely used, behavioral indicator for cerebral laterality, mainly of language, is handedness. A number of studies have compared cognitive abilities between groups of left- and right-handers, while others have investigated the handedness prevalence between groups of different cognitive abilities. The present study comprises five meta-analyses of studies that have assessed the handedness prevalence in (a) individuals with intellectual disability (ID) of unknown/idiopathic nature compared to typically developing (TD) individuals, and (b) individuals with intellectual giftedness (IG) compared to TD individuals. Nineteen data sets totaling 16,076 participants (5795 ID, 8312 TD, and 1969 IG) were included in the analyses. Elevated levels of atypical handedness were found to be robust only for the ID to TD comparison. Findings constrain the range of acceptable theories on the handedness distribution for different intelligence levels.

Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews