MadSci Network: Neuroscience

Re: Can one learn to become ambidextrous?

Date: Wed Apr 4 21:27:34 2001
Posted By: Mark Sullivan, Medical Student
Area of science: Neuroscience
ID: 985702626.Ns

Hi Malkavian,
     The short answer is yes, you can certainly train yourself to be 
ambidextrous.  The task of motor function is allocated to a specific area 
of the brain called the motor cortex.  Since our brains are divided down 
the middle we essentially have two of these areas.  The tricky thing is 
that the motor cortex on the right side of the brain controls the left 
side of the body, and vica versa for the left.  Now, when we walk, we use 
both legs equally well, or when we raise our hands both the right and left 
can do this task equally.  The difference becomes apparant when we use 
fine motor skills, like writing, or throwing a ball.  The reason we can 
throw or write better with one hand is because we trained ourselves to do 
it that way.  Now, there is also a little bit of dominance going on there 
too.  You can start teaching a child to throw a baseball with his right 
hand, but he may feel more comfortable doing it with his left.  Why, who 
knows?  But there is something hardwired in most people that makes us 
prefer one hand or leg over the other.  We can train ourselves to perform 
any task with the other hand though.  For instance, I play the guitar and 
have to use my left hand to fret the strings while my right hand either 
plucks or strums.  I have a left handed friend who has a lef handed guitar 
and I can't play that worth anything because I have trained my hands for a 
right handed guitar.  But I am able to figure out where to put my fingers, 
and with time I am sure that I could become adept at playing the other 
way.  As for how long it would take, that is up to each person 
individually.  Everyone has different speeds of learning a physical task 
which also depends upon what that task is and the amount of practice.  The 
most important thing is that it is possible with lots of hard work.  Good 


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