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David.Joseph
07-10-2007, 02:54 PM
I know this is kind of strange, but today I decided that I'm going to start doing everything with my left hand (I'm right handed.) I've been wondering if someone could acquire ambidexterity, or at least become significantly skilled with both hands - I mean in writing, using the toothbrush, whatever. I think that being able to write equally well with both hands is sufficient to say a person is either ambidextrous or practically ambidextrous, so this is my long term (I have no idea how long) goal.

I'm willing to bet that a lot of people would be interested in my results, so I think I will post here weekly and let you guys know how it's going (that should be adequate time to see some change.) I encourage anyone who is curious (or just bored) to try it along with me. :)

brewbuck
07-10-2007, 03:22 PM
I know this is kind of strange, but today I decided that I'm going to start doing everything with my left hand (I'm right handed.) I've been wondering if someone could acquire ambidexterity, or at least become significantly skilled with both hands - I mean in writing, using the toothbrush, whatever. I think that being able to write equally well with both hands is sufficient to say a person is either ambidextrous or practically ambidextrous, so this is my long term (I have no idea how long) goal.

I'm willing to bet that a lot of people would be interested in my results, so I think I will post here weekly and let you guys know how it's going (that should be adequate time to see some change.) I encourage anyone who is curious (or just bored) to try it along with me. :)

My mother was born lefty, and was pretty much forced to be a righty in elementary school. She is convinced that this permanently destroyed her hand coordination. Now she uses a schizophrenic combination of both hands for various tasks -- eats left handed, writes right handed. Brushes teeth with left hand. Turns a screw driver with right hand. Etc.

So you might find yourself becoming more ambidextrous... Or you might find that you can't work properly with EITHER hand anymore ;)

whiteflags
07-10-2007, 03:25 PM
Start with easier things besides writing. After you've practiced doing some other things with your opposite hand, you can try writing because it shouldn't feel as weird. Don't rush while you learn to write again though; start slow and pick up speed as it becomes easier.

I'm left handed, btw. It's sort of freaky for some people. I don't really endorse becoming a lefty.

David.Joseph
07-10-2007, 03:33 PM
Start with easier things besides writing. After you've practiced doing some other things with your opposite hand, you can try writing because it shouldn't feel as weird. Don't rush while you learn to write again though; start slow and pick up speed as it becomes easier.

I'm left handed, btw. It's sort of freaky for some people. I don't really endorse becoming a lefty.

I'm actually fairly skilled with my left hand already. I can play ping pong almost equally well with my left hand, but my writing looks like a child's. It is legible though, so I think that it can be improved.

David.Joseph
07-10-2007, 03:35 PM
So you might find yourself becoming more ambidextrous... Or you might find that you can't work properly with EITHER hand anymore ;)

Thats a risk I'm willing to take :)

brewbuck
07-10-2007, 03:58 PM
I'm actually fairly skilled with my left hand already. I can play ping pong almost equally well with my left hand, but my writing looks like a child's. It is legible though, so I think that it can be improved.

And do you find that you get ink smeared all over your left hand as it strides across the paper? There's a reason we write left-to-right :)

cboard_member
07-10-2007, 04:18 PM
I broke my wrist when I was in primary school and had to write with my left hand for some time, but I'm pretty sure any manner of skill I attained has faded considering I've done nothing significant with my left hand since.

What the hell, seems pretty interesting, I'll try it for a day, starting tomorrow and the great brushing of the teeth. If I don't impale my cheeks or anything, I'll post tomorrow night. :)

EDIT: OK I just tried to write my name with my left hand and jeez, I can barely join the letters up. It is fairly legible though.

Daved
07-10-2007, 04:26 PM
I often brush my teeth with my left hand to try to improve its dexterity. My ultimate goal is generally sports related. Having good coordination in both hands is often helpful, especially in basketball which I have the opportunity to play more than other sports.

Oldman47
07-10-2007, 05:42 PM
I consider myself lefty, but way back in early school years I was ..........ed at and even had wooden rules smacked onto my left hand while I wrote. I have no idea what the hell the stigma was back then with being lefty, we're evil or some dip.......... thing like that, though once I hit junior high school no teacher ever said a word about using your left hand.

I don't consider myself ambidexterous (sp?), I'm more simply just screwed up. I swing a hammer lefty, throw objects with my left hand, write both left and right, bowl and a slew of other things. On the right side, I shoot a gun, golf, use a bow, shoot pool and a mess of other activities. I'm more likely to use a mechanical tool with my right hand, though if it requires maximum strength I'll generally switch to my left hand.

To the actual question, yes I think you can train yourself to use both (hands). Although, I'd imagine one side will always remain the dominant (or stronger).

mike_g
07-10-2007, 05:58 PM
If you have a knife in one hand and a fork in the other which ones your eating hand? Many task require ambidexterity, where relevant you learn them. Such as typing or using a joypad. For tasks like writing you only really need one hand. IMHO I'd rather have one hand thats good at it than two hands that arent.

David.Joseph
07-16-2007, 03:49 PM
Well it's been almost a week. I'll just go ahead and tell you guys where I'm at. I'm actually surprised at my progress.

So that first day was discouraging and my handwriting looked like a child's.

The second day was nearly the same, but I noticed a bit more easiness in my writing.

The third day was noticeably better.

The fourth day was even better. In fact, at this point, my left-hand writing was almost identical to my right. The major difference was that I wrote much slower with my left hand and it didn't feel as natural.

The fifth day, as can be expected, was better. I will say that at this point, my left hand was about 90% of my right as far as proficiency.

I didn't notice too much change today, the sixth day. Maybe a little better. I certainly don't feel uncomfortable writing with my left hand anymore.

So as you can see, it went quicker than I expected. I'm glad that I took the time to do this, and it didn't turn out unsuccessful. It would have sucked to commit to a week of writing with my left hand if it didn't get any better.

@nthony
07-16-2007, 06:46 PM
For writing, right-handedness is almost always better. Since we write left-to-right, right-handedness means you won't be covering the characters you just wrote, which also means less smudging when it comes to inks. Also, our right-hand is controlled by the left part of the brain, which is responsible for critical thought and logic, which in theory, should allow you to write scientific/technical material more effeciently with your right hand. In that same respect however, in theory, lefty's may be more naturally equipped to produce scribal art (since the right lobe is responsible for imagery and creativity).

David.Joseph
07-16-2007, 06:58 PM
For writing, right-handedness is almost always better. Since we write left-to-right, right-handedness means you won't be covering the characters you just wrote, which also means less smudging when it comes to inks. Also, our right-hand is controlled by the left part of the brain, which is responsible for critical thought and logic, which in theory, should allow you to write scientific/technical material more effeciently with your right hand. In that same respect however, in theory, lefty's may be more naturally equipped to produce scribal art (since the right lobe is responsible for imagery and creativity).

I know that it's easier to write with your right hand, I just wanted to be able to write with either.

I haven't seen any evidence that motor functions are linked to cognitive functions in such a way. Can you show me where you read that?

QuestionC
07-16-2007, 11:07 PM
I know that it's easier to write with your right hand, I just wanted to be able to write with either.

I haven't seen any evidence that motor functions are linked to cognitive functions in such a way. Can you show me where you read that?

I am not a psychology student, but this is what I remember from high school.
In the 60s, they did some experiments on split-brain patients. These were people who had a surgical operation performed on the brain, dividing the hemispheres, in order to control epileptic seizures (less communication means less chance of an overload).

Their experiments showed that these patients recognized object differently when put in their left field of vision, or their right field of vision, most notably not being able to name objects if on the left side (or is it right?).

I think that the left vs right you hear in folk psychology is pretty much bunk though. Information should be passing seamlessly between the two sides.

Salem
07-16-2007, 11:25 PM
Perhaps try writing in the other direction with your left hand.
http://www.mos.org/sln/Leonardo/LeonardoRighttoLeft.html

David.Joseph
07-17-2007, 08:14 AM
Perhaps try writing in the other direction with your left hand.
http://www.mos.org/sln/Leonardo/LeonardoRighttoLeft.html

haha, that's pretty cool. I will try that, thanks.

@nthony
07-17-2007, 06:39 PM
I am not a psychology student, but this is what I remember from high school.Coincidentally, I am somewhat of a psychology student (minor), and that was exactly the experiment I was referring too!
It was conducted by a neurobiologist, Roger Sperry. It was found that cutting the synapse between the two hemispheres (left and right) reduced the onset of seizures in epilepsy patients. A study was conducted to observe what consiquences if any having a "split brain" would entail. In a nutshell, what they found was that, in a patient, when presented with an object to his right eye, he was not able to draw it with his right hand, until his left eye had explicitly seen it first, and vice versa. Also, when asked to draw an object he visualized, he could only draw it with his left hand, and when asked to write a sentence or other logical construct, could only do so with his right hand. If you want to find out more about the expirement, google Roger Sperry and Split Brain (http://www.google.ca/search?q=Roger+Sperry+%2B+split+brain&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a)
The just of it is that your right hand is better suited for linguistic and logical tasks, and your left artistic endevours.

withoutn
07-19-2007, 10:57 AM
Hey,

Rather than an interesting experiment it's a good skill to acquire since whatever hand you feel writing or painting or whatever you'll use it. I've done that in school, and instead of using my right hand I'd write with left unless writing essays etc. It took me about a full year to get my writing fairly clear, readable and generally pleasing to the eye, although in the beginning it didn't look good. I wasn't able to keep sentences in a straight line, and couldn't nicely write letters like a o d, that involved drawing circles etc :-) I still can see the difference between my left and right mainly because in my right letters are right-inclined while in my left, they're generally straight. Also, I'm not able to draw with my left even nearly as good as with my right but I think it just requires more time.

I think to get your other hand as good as the one you normally use requires many years of work (like writing paragraphs every day, and doing chores with it) since look how many years you've been using it - your age minus maybe 2 or 3. For instance, although I can write fairly good, it's not so fairly simple to quickly open a padlock with my left or use a computer mouse.

Besides, even a finer skill to learn is writing with both hands at the same time. I think it's possible, although I've never seen anyone doing it. I tried but couldn't. Whenever I'd try, my brain would somehow switch to the hand I wanna use, and interrupt the other.

brewbuck
07-19-2007, 11:29 AM
A study was conducted to observe what consiquences if any having a "split brain" would entail. In a nutshell, what they found was that, in a patient, when presented with an object to his right eye, he was not able to draw it with his right hand, until his left eye had explicitly seen it first, and vice versa. Also, when asked to draw an object he visualized, he could only draw it with his left hand, and when asked to write a sentence or other logical construct, could only do so with his right hand.

I find that experiment interesting, but not because of the outward effects. Consider that your "intact" mind is conscious, and you experience your own self as a whole entity. If you brain is split in half, it's quite possible (and likely) that both halves are conscious. But which one "are you?" Surely both trains of consciousness do not exist in the same "space," whatever you want to call it. So how does the universe choose which half of the brain you feel you continue to exist in? Is it a coin flip?

Actually, both halves would probably claim to be the "real you." But if you try to follow your consciousness as an unbroken train from birth until the separating event, what happens at that instant?

My opinion (with no real basis) is that the original conscious being simply ceases to exist, and is replaced by two NEW conscious beings cohabitating in the same body. I can't think of anything else which makes any sense.

Salem
07-19-2007, 11:39 AM
Starting at the middle of the page, and writing out to both edges at the same time (with one being the mirror of the other) has to be a neat party trick :)

David.Joseph
07-19-2007, 04:51 PM
Hey,

Rather than an interesting experiment it's a good skill to acquire since whatever hand you feel writing or painting or whatever you'll use it. I've done that in school, and instead of using my right hand I'd write with left unless writing essays etc. It took me about a full year to get my writing fairly clear, readable and generally pleasing to the eye, although in the beginning it didn't look good. I wasn't able to keep sentences in a straight line, and couldn't nicely write letters like a o d, that involved drawing circles etc :-) I still can see the difference between my left and right mainly because in my right letters are right-inclined while in my left, they're generally straight. Also, I'm not able to draw with my left even nearly as good as with my right but I think it just requires more time.

I think to get your other hand as good as the one you normally use requires many years of work (like writing paragraphs every day, and doing chores with it) since look how many years you've been using it - your age minus maybe 2 or 3. For instance, although I can write fairly good, it's not so fairly simple to quickly open a padlock with my left or use a computer mouse.

Besides, even a finer skill to learn is writing with both hands at the same time. I think it's possible, although I've never seen anyone doing it. I tried but couldn't. Whenever I'd try, my brain would somehow switch to the hand I wanna use, and interrupt the other.

I'm surprised it took a year to be able to write neatly, it's only been 1.5 weeks for me and left is nearly as good as right. Everyone's different though - I always knew my left hand was more functional than most people's recessive hand. There's a lot of things that I probably couldn't do nearly as well with my left hand though, such as batting, throwing, etc. Those things are hard to work on repetitively.

@nthony
07-19-2007, 06:13 PM
I find that experiment interesting, but not because of the outward effects. Consider that your "intact" mind is conscious, and you experience your own self as a whole entity. If you brain is split in half, it's quite possible (and likely) that both halves are conscious. But which one "are you?" Surely both trains of consciousness do not exist in the same "space," whatever you want to call it. So how does the universe choose which half of the brain you feel you continue to exist in? Is it a coin flip?
Actually, both halves would probably claim to be the "real you." But if you try to follow your consciousness as an unbroken train from birth until the separating event, what happens at that instant?
My opinion (with no real basis) is that the original conscious being simply ceases to exist, and is replaced by two NEW conscious beings cohabitating in the same body. I can't think of anything else which makes any sense.
That is exactly correct. From my pyschology textbook "Approaches to Psychology", Sperry is quoted as reporting:
Instead of the normally unified single stream of consciousness, these patients, behave in many wasy as if they have two independent streams of conscious awareness, one in each hemishpere, each of which is cut off from and out of contact with the mental experience of the other" (Sperry 1968: 724).The textbook goes on further to say that:
a) if the corpus callosum is cut, the two hemispheres function independently
b) each hemisphere seems to possess consciousness, but without awareness of the other (in one case, a patient, seeing her left hand make a response, exclaimed, "I didn't do that!")
c) the two hemispheres seem to show different types of specialized abilities, with the left hemisphere usually possessing language, logic and maths skills, and the right hemisphere spatial and musical skills.
So it suggests exactly as you said, that split-brain individuals experience a type of duality of consciousness, which is indeed quite amazing to think about (and the sort of things that turned me onto pyschology in the first place). I guess it could be compared to something a schizophrenik or split-personality would experience, although not even they have two active consciouses at one time. Although, from the testimonial of the female patient ("I didnt do that"), it would appear that "she" was operating primarly from one consciousness (the one that "didnt do it"), which leads me to posit that cerebral dominance (i.e. if your right handed, you have left-cerebral dominance) may play a part in determining for these individuals which consciousness is dominant.
It also gives rise to the question of where consciousness resides in the brain. It seems to be amorphous, merging into one stream of consciouness in normal individuals, but still existing as two in split-brain individuals. The textbook, mentions the view (and one that I would subscribe to) that Sperry referred to this as the emergent property of the brain which states that no one individual part or area is responsible for consciousness, rather that it is a result of the system working as a whole, in synchronization (or in the case of split-brain individuals, two wholes).

brewbuck
07-19-2007, 11:46 PM
So it suggests exactly as you said, that split-brain individuals experience a type of duality of consciousness, which is indeed quite amazing to think about (and the sort of things that turned me onto pyschology in the first place).

Thought experiment:

Suppose a split-brain individual is suffering from crippling seizures in both hemispheres. These seizures are determined to be caused by damage from severing the c. callosum. As it turns out, the only way to stop these life-threatening seizures is to remove one of the two halves of the brain.

So there are two fully conscious beings at stake. Both of them know that neither of them will survive unless one is killed. Both have a certain degree of control over what the body does. What will they do?

Also, suppose you are a doctor caring for such a patient. Will you make decisions based solely on what the "talking half" of the brain is saying? There is a whole other hemisphere, presumably conscious, which cannot easily voice its opinions. Surely, in such a case the patient would say "cut the right side out," but is this really what you should do?

What if the doctor lies to the patient about which side of the brain is dominant? If the doc says, "It's your right hemisphere which can speak with me now," but it's actually the left, the patient might say "Then cut out the left hemisphere." But since it is a lie, the half which spoke is committing suicide unwittingly.

Is the doctor then guilty of murder?

@nthony
07-20-2007, 12:52 AM
Interesting... from some of the studies I've heard of that deal with Traumatic Brain Injury, and removal of parts of the brain, I think they literally might be reduced to half-a-brain, as was the case with a young boy who survived a gunshot wound that caused almost the entirety of his right hemisphere to be removed. Although he could still "function" (motor skills, basic thought etc) his brain power was effectively crippled (was reduced to the intelligence level of a 6-year-old I believe). Although this was based on traumatic injury, so it'd be hard to extrapolate for certain if these events would occur in proper surgical removal. I believe though, at the very least, the person would be lose the functionality of almost half their body, as well as most skills (linguistic/logical or artistic/spatial) responsible of the lost half. Also, the book mentions that, although split, the two hemispheres still were able to collaborate effectively (externally through visual/verbal/etc communication rather than internally):
Over time, it even seems that indirect methods of communicating between the two sides develop. For example, in one experiment, Sperry flashed either a red or green card to the left visual field (right hemishpere), and then asked the person to name (left hemisphere) the colour. As expected, the left hemishpere, not having seen the colour, did poorly. However, if allowed to reconsider, the person was always correct. What seemed to happen was that the right hemisphere, hearing the spoken response of the left hemisphere, would produce grimaces and other gesutures if the answer was wrong. These cuse let the left hemishpere know its error, which it then corrected!Its as if two different people were using the same body to communicate with each other to achieve a common goal. Because of this, I'd tend to agree that "removing" a sphere might be considered murder, but only half-murder! Though in any case you'd be severly crippling the mental ability of the patient, and would probably be equivalent to killing their "person" (which exists as a sort of "team" or symbiot). I'd guess I'd liken it to splitting siamese twins, if one has to die, choose the one with the most to potentially gain (most likely the dominant one); if I were a split-brain stenographer (or some other logical/linguistic task that does not require much creativity), I'd have to part with "mr. right", whereas if I were an aspiring artist, I think both halves might agree after a long debate (if it were an actual vocal debate, that would truly be an interesting experience) that it would be best to let if the left one "left" (excuse the crappy puns...).
I really do see this whole field taking of in the far future though when the biological breakthrough that allows us to accurately interface with the brain occurs, and people can essentially "network" with each other. This would then mean that the entirety of humanity would cease to exist as individuals and instead become one unified, streamed consciousness, which, (as partially a result of studying this material) has been for a while now my invision of and achievement goal for humankind in the far future.