Relationship between manual preferences for object manipulation and pointing gestures in infants and toddlers


Jacques Vauclair, Center for Research in the Psychology of Cognition, Language & Emotion, Department of Psychology, Aix-Marseille University, 29 Ave. Robert-Schuman, 13621 Aix-en-Provence Cedex 1, France; e-mail:


The aim of this study was to measure the pattern of hand preferences for pointing gestures as a function of object-manipulation handedness in 123 infants and toddlers (10–40 months). The results showed that not only right-handers but also left-handers and ambidextrous participants tended to use their right hand for pointing. There was a significant correlation between manual preferences and pointing lateralization. Further analyses showed that the correlation between these two indexes was at its strongest during two key phases of language development (i.e. vocabulary spurt and syntax improvement) and weakened to become nonsignificant in the interim. These findings support the view that humans have a specialized area for communicative gestures and language in the left cerebral hemisphere that may be independent of the system controlling the purely motor functions of hand use.