Using hand performance measures to predict handedness

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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Western Ontario]On: 07 October 2014, At: 01:58Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brainand CognitionPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/plat20

    Using hand performance measures topredict handednessSusan Brown a , Eric Roy a , Linda Rohr a & Pamela Bryden ba University of Waterloo, Canadab Wilfrid Laurier University, ON, CanadaPublished online: 21 Sep 2010.

    To cite this article: Susan Brown , Eric Roy , Linda Rohr & Pamela Bryden (2006) Using handperformance measures to predict handedness, Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition,11:1, 1-14, DOI: 10.1080/1357650054200000440

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  • Using hand performance measures to predict

    handedness

    Susan G. Brown, Eric A. Roy, and Linda E. Rohr

    University of Waterloo, Canada

    Pamela J. Bryden

    Wilfrid Laurier University, ON, Canada

    Handedness is defined by the individual's preference to use one hand pre-dominately for unimanual tasks and the ability to perform these tasks more effi-ciently with one hand (Corey, Hurley, & Foundas, 2001). It is important to useperformance variables to measure handedness because they are more objectivethan traditional hand preference questionnaires (Bryden, Pryde, & Roy, 2000a).The current study develops a predictive model of handedness as measured by theWaterloo Handedness Questionnaire (WHQ) using several performance indicatorsof handedness. A total of 120 individuals (60 right-handers and 60 left-handers)were asked to complete four performance-based tasks: the Grooved Pegboard(GP), the Annett pegboard (AP), finger tapping (FT), and grip strength (GS) aswell as an observational measure of preference, the Wathand Box Test (WBT).Backward linear regression analysis showed that the Wathand Box measure andthe laterality quotients for several performance measures (GP place, AP, and FT)combined to act as the most accurate predictors of hand preference. The predictivemodel of handedness developed is as follows: WHQ = 72.760 0.667(GP place)+ 0.809(FT) + 0.234(WBT) 0.748(AP) with an explained variance of 0.836.These results illustrate, as Corey et al. (2001) suggested, that the best predictivemodel of handedness combines preference measures and several performancemeasures that tap into different elements of motor performance. By developing thismodel, it is possible to get an accurate measure of handedness using objectivemeasures.

    Handedness is one of the most obvious asymmetries of human behaviour, and

    arises from individuals using one hand more often than the other for unimanual

    activities (Corey, Hurley, & Foundas, 2001). The relationship between hand

    preference, hand performance, and hemispheric asymmetries is crucial to

    Address correspondence to Susan G. Brown, Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo,

    200 University Avenue W, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada. Email: sgbrown@ahsmail.uwaterloo.ca

    This work was supported by grants from NSERC (E.A.R. and P.J.B.) and the Heart and Stroke

    Foundation of Ontario (E.A.R.).

    # 2006 Psychology Press Ltdhttp://www.psypress.com/laterality DOI:10.1080/1357650054200000440

    LATERALITY, 2006, 11 (1), 114

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  • understanding the neural systems that underlie human behavioural asymmetries

    (Corey et al., 2001). Specifically, an understanding of the relationship between

    hand preference and hand performance will undoubtedly help in examining the

    relationship between handedness and cerebral organisation, especially with

    respect to language functions, and may ultimately help define the risk of

    acquiring specific language disorders that occur more frequently in left-handers

    than right-handers, such as aphasia (Bryden, Bulman-Fleming, & MacDonald,

    1996).

    Both hand preference measures and hand performance measures can be used

    to categorise individuals into handedness groups. Preference measures provide a

    way of subjectively measuring handedness for unimanual activities, whereas

    performance measures afford a more objective measurement of handedness

    (Bryden, Pryde, & Roy, 2000b). It is possible to link the subjective preference

    measures with the objective performance measures by developing predictive

    models of handedness.

    The distributions of preference and performance data are different. Whereas

    preference measures typically exhibit a bimodal distribution with two handed-

    ness groups, performance measures such as peg-moving tasks tend to be dis-

    tributed unimodally (Annett, 2002). As a result, there are two identifiable groups

    when examining preference data, but not when examining performance data.

    Therefore, finding a link between preference and performance data is

    challenging, unless the factors that underlie handedness groups are the same for

    preference and performance measures (Corey et al., 2001).

    Questionnaires offer a convenient means of dividing individuals into hand-

    edness groups, as they are easier to administer than performance-based measures

    (Bryden et al., 2000b). However, despite the time advantage, measuring hand-

    edness with preference measures is not always ideal due to the inherent sub-

    jectivity of the task; they rely on the reader's interpretation of the question as

    well as ability to imagine oneself performing the particular task (Bryden et al.,

    1996). Due to their subjectivity, questionnaires are particularly unreliable when

    administered to special populations such as the elderly or children, because

    individuals in these populations may have difficulty remembering which hand

    they would use to perform certain tasks, and may have difficulty making

    appropriate judgement calls about which hand is used in certain circumstances

    (Bryden et al., 2000a). In contrast, performance measures have an important

    objectivity but require both a greater amount of time and increased resources to

    administer compared to preference measures. Despite the objectivity advantage,

    preference measures have traditionally been used to divide individuals into

    handedness groups due to the ease of administration (Peters, 1998).

    Because there are so many different underlying components of hand per-

    formance (proximal versus distal musculature, and fine versus gross control), a

    combination of performance measures, each emphasising a different aspect of

    performance, is important in creating an accurate predictive model of handed-

    2 BROWN ET AL.

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  • ness (Corey et al., 2001). Some performance measures, such as writing and

    throwing a ball, are highly specialised and could be influenced by the indivi-

    dual's experience in performing the task, thus skewing the outcome distribution

    in favour of the preferred hand (Peters, 1998). To ensure that the performance

    tasks are measuring true hand differences, they must be specialised, but not so

    much that those differences are due to the individual's experience in performing

    the task (Peters, 1998). For example, a task such as writing or sewing would be

    specialised enough to show large hand performance differenceshowever, the

    fact that the participant would routinely perform these tasks with one hand

    would skew the results and add a component of differential experience between

    the hands to the task performance. Tasks that are less specialised and so meet the

    criteria mentioned above include peg-moving tasks as well as finger-tapping

    tasks.

    The current study attempts to examine in more detail the relationship between

    measures of hand preference and measures of hand performance. By establishing

    how preference and performance measures are related, it might be possible to

    develop effective preference-based measures of handedness that use many of the

    same skills as do performance-based measures. In this way, it would be possible

    to remove some of the subjectivity of preference measures by basing specific

    items on the questionnaire on those performance measures that have been linked

    to true lateralisation effects, or developing more robust observational measures

    of preference to measure handedness.

    METHOD

    Participants

    Data were collected on 120 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 25. Partici-

    pants were not recruited on the basis of gender, but handedness was important:

    60 participants were self-proclaimed right-handers (43 females, 17 males) and

    60 participants were self-proclaimed left-handers (38 females, 22 males). Rather

    than use a sample representative of the population with approximately 90%

    right-handers and 10% left-handers, an equal number of right-handed and left-

    handed individuals were tested in order to be able to increase the power to find

    the relationship between hand preference and hand performance. This paper

    does not attempt to predict the probability of being either right- or left-handed

    based on test scores, and therefore using an equal number of right- and left-

    handers was appropriate. Inclusion in either the right or left hand preference

    group was determined with respect to the participant's stated hand preference.

    The majority of subjects were recruited from introductory psychology and

    psychomotor behaviour classes. All subjects were free from neurological

    damage and had corrected to normal vision. The study was approved by the

    Office of Research Ethics, and all participants gave informed consent before

    beginning the study.

    PERFORMANCE MEASURES OF HANDEDNESS 3

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  • Apparatus and procedures

    The preference and performance tasks used in this study are standard measures

    used in research on manual asymmetries, and included a preference measure,

    performance measures, and an observational measure of preference (the Wat-

    hand Box Test). Hand preference was evaluated using the Waterloo Handedness

    Questionnaire and the Wathand Box Test. Hand performance indicators inclu-

    ded: two pegboard tasks, a finger-tapping task, and a measure of grip strength.

    Participants completed the tasks in a randomised order, however each partici-

    pant completed all trials of a single task before moving on to the subsequent

    task.

    Waterloo Handedness Questionnaire (WHQ). The Waterloo Handedness

    Questionnaire was the primary measure of hand preference in the study.

    Participants were presented with 20 questions, asking them to indicate which

    hand they would use to perform a series of unimanual activities (such as using a

    hammer, writing). Some of the items on the questionnaire reflect skilled

    performance (i.e., writing) whereas other items reflect relatively unskilled

    activities (i.e., opening a drawer). Five possible responses were offered for each

    question, allowing the participant to rate the frequency with which they would

    use a particular hand for each activity using a 5-point scale (i.e., ``always use the

    left hand'', ``usually use the left hand'', ``use both hands equally often'',

    ``usually use the right hand'', ``always use the right hand''). Each of these

    responses was scored as 72, 71, 0, 1, 2 respectively, and the dependenthandedness measure was calculated as the total composite score of these

    individual responses. Therefore, right-handed individuals yielded positive scores

    on the WHQ whereas left-handed individuals yielded negative scores. For a list

    of the questions included in the WHQ, please refer to the Appendix.

    Wathand Box Test (WBT). Participants were asked to complete several

    unimanual tasks such as lifting a cupboard door, using a toy hammer, placing

    rings on hooks, and tossing a ball. The researcher recorded which hand they used

    to perform these activities. A laterality quotient was calculated by subtracting

    the number of tasks performed with the left hand from the number of tasks

    performed with the right hand and dividing by the total number of tasks. This

    laterality quotient was renamed the ``Wathand Box Score'', and was used in the

    statistical analysis.

    Previous research has shown that the WBT is an accurate performance-based

    measure of preference and it has been used to measure hand preference in

    special populations, including children, where traditional questionnaire-based

    measures of preference would not be appropriate (Bryden et al., 2000b).

    4 BROWN ET AL.

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  • Grooved Pegboard (GP). The GP task provided a measure of manipulative

    skill and visuomotor control. The first portion of the GP place phase of the GP

    task was completed according to the standard instructions provided in the

    Lafayette Instrument Instruction/Owner's Manual for the 32025 Grooved

    Pegboard (Lafayette Instruments, 1989). Participants were asked to complete

    two trials with each hand in which they were required to move a set of 25 pegs

    from a large receptacle to a set of 25 holes. This was called the ``place phase''.

    The pegs were irregularly shaped and would therefore only fit into the holes in

    one orientation. These pegs were approximately the same size as the holes and

    therefore the task required significant skill to complete. In addition to

    completing the place phase, participants were required to complete two trials

    usin...

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