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The nature and nurture of human infant hand preference


  • Jacqueline Fagard

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception, Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France
    • Address for correspondence: Jacqueline Fagard, Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception, Université Paris Descartes, CNRS UMR 8158, Centre Biomédical des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris, France.

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This paper reviews the earliest documented manual and postural asymmetries, in the fetus and during the first months of life. I attempt to analyze which genetic and/or environmental factors are likely to trigger each one, as well as its consequences for the other ones. I conclude that right-handedness is prevalent in all cultures because an intrinsic tendency toward right-handedness has many occasions to be reinforced, from the uterine to the perinatal environment and from the familial to the cultural environment. Finally, the combination of potential genetic factors—direct (motoric) or indirect (postural)—with varied biological and cultural environmental influences over various periods during development may explain the high variability of handedness in typical populations (as long as hand preference is not equated with the hand used for writing).

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