Quick! Pick up your cell phone and hold it to your ear as if you’re answering a call.
Feel silly? Okay, good. Which ear did you use, right or left?
Chances are pretty good you held it up to the ear on the same side as the “dominant” side of your brain. Your brain’s dominant side is where your speech and language center is located. For about 95% of us, that’s the left hemisphere of the brain (which makes this group right-handed).
A recent study conducted by researchers at the Henry Ford Health System found that 73% of people use the dominant hand to hold their cell phones up to their dominant ears, so if you’re right-handed you likely grabbed your phone and held it up to your right ear. The results break down like this:
- Right-handed / Right Ear: 68%
- Right-handed / Left Ear: 25%
- Right-handed / No Preference: 7%
- Left-handed / Left Ear: 72%
- Left-handed / Right Ear: 23%
- Left-handed / No Preference: 5%
It’s an interesting topic to mention to your mid-summer barbecue guests or around the office water cooler, but the study’s lead author, Dr. Michael Seidman, FACS, says it could also be a quick and helpful test in a medical emergency.
“By establishing a correlation between cerebral dominance and sidedness of cell phone use, it may be possible to develop a less-invasive, lower-cost option to establish the side of the brain where speech and language occurs rather than the Wada test, a procedure that injects an anesthetic into the carotid artery to put half of the brain to sleep in order to map activity” Dr. Seidman said in a news release.
Although tossing a cell phone at a patient who needs brain surgery isn’t foolproof, it can give a surgeon some guidance as to where a patient’s language center is located. That’s essential information to have on-hand before a procedure begins, and some patients may not be able to wait for a Wada test before surgery.
This study began with an observation that most people use their right hands to hold their phones up to their right ears. Dr. Seidman thought that was illogical because it’s hard to listen on the phone with your right ear and take notes with your right hand. Try it — we think he’s right!