Article Title

Manual Asymmetries and Working Memory: Preliminary Results


Matos, J. A., Flink, T. S., Gannon University, Erie, PA

The balance between handedness performances, or manual asymmetry, tends to decline with age. When people age, their brains lose functionality, which compensates for these losses with a reduced lateralized dominance between the two hands. Working memory declines with age and the areas of the brain, that control working memory, also show reduced lateralization in older adults. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine differences in manual asymmetry in young vs. older adults in tasks that require working memory and fine motor control. Methods: Nineteen right-handed participants (ages 20.7 ± 3 years) were tested. Participants completed a Mini-Mental State Examination to test cognitive function and memory levels. The participants completed 3 tasks: working memory, spatial manipulation of shapes, and a combination of working memory plus spatial manipulation of shapes. Time until completion was recorded per trial. Results: Preliminary results showed right-hand performance was 3.7s and 7.4s faster compared to the left hand for the spatial manipulation (t(18) = -4.97, p = 0.000) and combination (t(18) = -2.81, p = 0.011) tasks, respectively. In addition, performance of the left hand significantly correlated with the laterality quotient computed for the spatial manipulation task (r(17) = -0.715, p = 0.001) and combination task (r (17) = -0.705, p = 0.001). Conclusion: Performance with the right hand was significantly better than the left hand for the young adults. However, manual asymmetry in young adults is dependent upon the performance of the non-dominant hand only. Research investigating differences in manual asymmetry in older adults is currently ongoing and will be compared with younger adults.

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