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Original Article

Relationship between Dominant Hand and Ear Preference for Listening


among Medical Students
Sandeep Sachdeva, Nidhi Dwivedi

Department of Community Objective: The aim of the study was to determine dominant hand for routine

Abstract
Medicine, North DMC
Medical College and Hindu
activities and ear preference for listening among medical students. Mobile
Rao Hospital, New Delhi, phone usage was also studied. Methodology: Medical students of three batches
India (2nd, 3rd, and 4th year) studying in a government medical college of Delhi (India)
were considered. Out of 150 permitted  (50 per batch) seats, only 139 were
filled. Thus, after seeking an informed consent, a total of 117 (84.1%) available
students could be contacted in person who completed the survey capturing
details such as Section‑I: Sociodemographic background; Section‑II: Dominant
hand (right/left) for undertaking routine activities, ear (right/left) preference for
listening say mobile phones; and Section‑III: Selected details of their mobile
phones. Results: There were 71 (60.7%) males and 46 (39.3%) female students;
It was found out that out of 117 students, 110 (94.0%) were right handed while
7  (5.9%) were left handed. Out of all the right‑handed persons  (n  =  110),
94  (85.4%) preferred right ear, 14  (12.7%) left ear, and 2  (1.8%) either of the
ears for listening phone. Similarly, out of all the left‑handed persons  (n  =  07),
6  (85.7%) preferred left ear and only 1  (14.2%) right ear for listening mobile
phone. Right‑sided  (right hand‑right ear) laterality was observed in 85.4% and
left‑sided  (left hand‑left ear) laterality in 85.7% with overall  (same hand‑same
ear) laterality of 85.4% among study participants  (P  <  0.01). Most common
color of mobile phone was black (59, 50.4%), white  (30, 25.6%), golden  (13,
11.1%), silver (6, 5.1%), etc. Average time spent per day by medical students on
mobile phones  (either communication, Internet/WhatsApp/Facebook, listening
songs, playing games, or reading E‑books) was 3.83  (±2.1) h and average
monthly expenditure on mobile phone was 10% of personal expenditure,
i.e.,  Rs. 532  (±374.4). Conclusion: Our descriptive study reiterates that most
participants were right handed  (dominant limb) and majority of them preferred
right ear for listening phones.

Received: 23‑08‑2017 Keywords: Audiometer, auditory, communication, hemisphere dominance,


Accepted: 03-11-2017 lateralization, phone

Introduction as well as voluntary and involuntary actions, etc.,


Genetic constitution, education, attitude, culture, social
O bserving normal people reveals that majority (85%)
are right handed, some left handed, while the rest
are considered ambidextrous, i.e.,  they can use both
upbringing, and environment influence our personality
and mannerism in public arena.
the left and right limbs equally. The anatomical and Address for correspondence: Dr. Sandeep Sachdeva,
functional asymmetries are linked with individual Department of Community Medicine, North DMC Medical
differences in cerebral organization.[1] Functional College and Hindu Rao Hospital, New Delhi ‑ 110 007, India.
asymmetry between two halves of the brain controls E‑mail: sachdevadr@yahoo.in

the consciousness, memory, speech, intelligence


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DOI: How to cite this article: Sachdeva S, Dwivedi N. Relationship between


10.4103/MJDRDYPU.MJDRDYPU_165_17 dominant hand and ear preference for listening among medical
students. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth 2018;11:307-11.

© 2018 Medical Journal of Dr. D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth | Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow 307
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Sachdeva and Dwivedi: Handedness and ear preference

Neuropsychologists have long been interested in informed consent, a total of 117  (84.1%) available
handedness as a possible indirect measure of cerebral students could be contacted in person who completed the
lateralization. Indeed majority of right‑handers have interview survey.
language skills lateralized to the left hemisphere.
The study instrument was divided into three sections and
However, this is also the case for about 67%–85% of
captured variables such as Section‑I: Sociodemographic
left‑handers.[2,3] Even after the development of accurate
details; Section‑II: Response was elicited to
and reliable neuroimaging methods, hand preference
ascertain dominant hand  (right/left) for undertaking
is still often used as a proxy for cerebral lateralization,
routine activities, ear preference for listening say
presumably because it is a cheap and very accessible
mobile phones; and Section‑III: Details of their
measure.
mobile phones  –  brand, color, usage pattern, monthly
Some researchers simply categorized people as left expenditure, etc.
handed or right handed based on the hand used to hold
a pen when writing.[4] Quantitative measures to assess There was no missing values or incomplete schedule.
handedness include peg moving, finger tapping, or The data were entered into Microsoft Excel spreadsheet
dotting within a boundary and assessed through various and analysis carried out using SPSS version  20
inventory methods such as Edinburgh Handedness (IBM, New  York, USA) through descriptive and
Inventory; Annett’s peg‑moving test, and Quantification inferential statistics and considered significant at P < 0.05.
of Hand Preference (QHP) task.[5‑7] The inventory and the
QHP task measure preference, whereas the peg‑moving
Results
task measures relative skill. While the inventory Out of 117 students, 71  (60.7%) were male and
summarizes the consistency of hand preference across 46  (39.3%) female; average age was 20  (±1.15) years;
different activities, the QHP task uses a behavioral native place of 77  (65.8%) students was Delhi and
continuum to characterize individual variation in hand rest  (34.2%) were from states outside Delhi but within
preference. country; 79  (67.5%) students were staying in hostel;
94  (80.3%) students passed their 12th  class from
The evidence suggests that the asymmetrical functioning
private/convent school whereas rest  (19.7%) from
of the two halves of the brain for speech is reflected in
government school.
unequal perception of words presented dichotically to left
and right ears. In normal participants, speech functions It was found out that out of 117 students, 110  (94.0%)
will be represented predominantly in the left hemisphere, were right  (dominant) handed while 7  (5.9%) were
and the left cerebral dominance will be reflected in left handed  [Table  1]. Out of all the right‑handed
a right‑ear superiority on the dichotic  (simultaneous persons  (n  =  110), 94  (85.4%) preferred right ear,
presentation of different stimuli to the two ears) digits 14  (12.7%) left ear, and 2  (1.8%) either of the ears for
test.[8] listening phone. Similarly, out of all the left‑handed
persons  (n  =  07), 6  (85.7%) preferred left ear and
The aim of the study was to assess the relationship
only 1  (14.2%) preferred right ear for listening mobile
between handedness  (dominant right/left hand) for
phone  [Figure  1]. Right‑sided laterality was observed
undertaking routine activities and ear preference for
in 85.4% and left‑sided laterality in 85.7% with
listening among medical students. Mobile phone was
overall laterality of 85.4% among study participants.
used as an indicator for citing ear preference for listening.
In addition, mobile phone usage pattern by medical This observation was found to be highly statistically
students was also studied. significant (P < 0.01).
The top five brands of mobile phones used by medical
Methodology students were Samsung (30, 25.6%), Apple (18, 15.4%),
A cross‑sectional descriptive study was conducted in
a government medical college of Delhi, India. Medical
Table 1: Practices among medical students regarding
students of three batches  (2nd, 3rd, and 4th  year) were
dominant hand for undertaking routine activities and
considered and invited to participate during April ear preference for listening
2017. Students were briefed about the study objectives, Handedness Ear preference for listening/placing Total
voluntary nature of participation, and confidentiality (predominant phones
of data collection. However, none of them declined hand) Right ear (%) Left ear (%) Either ear (%)
to participate. Complete enumeration was the sample Right hand 94 (85.4) 14 (12.7) 2 (1.8) 110
strategy, and out of 150 permitted (50 students per batch) Left hand 1 (14.3) 6 (85.7) 0 7
seats, only 139 were filled. Thus, after seeking an P<0.01

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Sachdeva and Dwivedi: Handedness and ear preference

Motorola (15, 12.8%), HTC (8, 6.8%), Xiomi (7, 6.0%), Discussion


etc., Most common color of mobile phone was black Our study primarily focused among young adults on
(59, 50.4%), white  (30, 25.6%), golden  (13, 11.1%), inferring dominant handedness and ear preference for
and silver  (6, 5.1%), followed by miscellaneous colors. listening. It was found out that of all the participants,
All the students possessed a smartphone; however, their 94.0% were right handed while 6% were left
usage of phone varied. Table  2 depicts frequency and handed in terms of dominant hand. Overall right ear
pattern of mobile phone usage among medical students preference was noted among 95  (81.1%) participants
as proportion. Among daily users of mobile phones, (among with either of dominant hand). Right‑sided
(right hand‑right ear) laterality was observed in 85.4%
22.0% of students were communicating frequently;
and left‑sided (left hand‑left ear) laterality in 85.7% with
28% were accessing the internet frequently; 34.1% were
overall  (same hand‑same ear) laterality of 85.4% among
listening to songs frequently, but only 18.3% and 12.2% study participants. This observation was found to be
were playing games and reading E‑books on frequent highly statistically significant (P < 0.01).
bases.
The genesis of this study emerged during personal
Average time spent per day by medical students evaluation of an apparently healthy, right handed,
on mobile phones  (either communication, ambulatory, average built 45‑year‑old patient, clerk
internet/WhatsApp/Facebook, listening songs, playing by profession who presented in outpatient department
games, or reading E‑books) was 3.83  (±2.1) h with of our health center. The chief complaints for last
95% confidence interval  (CI) as 3.3–4.3  h. The average couple of months were that he was not comfortable in
hearing while placing his phone on the right ear, his
monthly personal expenditure was Rs. 5191.4  (±3207.5)
usual practice. As a result, he had to repeatedly switch
and average monthly expenditure on mobile phone was
over to the left ear for better audibility. The patient
Rs. 532 (±374.4) with 95% CI of 450.4–614.9 Rs. was subsequently escorted to ENT department of our
hospital for evaluation and management. External ear,
90.0% 85.70% 85.40%
tympanic membrane was normal; however, audiometric
investigation was suggestive of age related both sided
Right ear
80.0% impairment with profound impairment for high frequency
Left ear noted in the right ear.
70.0%
Either ear
Hemisphere dominance has been a major topic in brain
60.0%
research for over a century. The two hemispheres of
50.0% the brain are symmetrical in appearance though certain
functions are differentially entitled in the two sides of
40.0%
the brain. The structure and function of paired organ or
30.0% of two similarly organized areas of nonpaired organs,
dispersed on the left and right sides, can be referred
20.0% 14.30% 12.70% as laterality.[9] Language dominance refers to the
10.0%
hemisphere of the brain that is primarily responsible for
0
1.80% language development, which is the left hemisphere in
0.0% most people. In right‑handers, speech center is located
Left hand Right hand
in the left hemisphere in 95% of individuals, while in
Figure 1: Graph depicting strong lateralization between dominant hand remaining 5%, it is situated in the right hemisphere. Most
and ear preference for listening phones people with left brain dominance are right handed.[10]

Table 2: Percentage of medical students according to average daily usage pattern of mobile phone use
Use mobile phone for Average daily use
Always (%) Often (%) Frequently (%) Occasionally (%) Rarely (%) Not using (%)
Verbal communication (100%) 11.0 19.5 22.0 29.3 14.6 ‑
Internet/social sites (96.3%) 13.4 25.6 28.0 22.0 7.3 3.7
Listening songs (96.3%) 7.3 22.0 34.1 18.3 14.6 3.7
Games (85.4%) 3.7 15.9 18.3 19.5 28 14.6
E‑book (74.4%) 1.2 6.1 12.2 30.5 24.4 25.6

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Sachdeva and Dwivedi: Handedness and ear preference

On the corollary, among left‑handers, speech center is on mobile phone was Rs. 271/‑  in a medical college of
located in the left hemisphere among 60% individuals, Bhavnagar, Gujarat.[23] In our study sample, average time
right hemisphere for 20%, and remaining 20% in either spent per day by medical students on mobile phones was
of hemisphere.[11‑13] In humans, there are four paramount 3.83 (±2.1) hours; 69.5% of medical students were using
lateral preferences, among which handedness and mobile for  >2  h/day; 54.8% were incurring average
footedness are concerned with motor functions of limbs monthly expenditure of Rs. 500/‑  on mobile phones.
and earedness and eyedness with sensory functions. As Some of the students were incurring high personal
a population, humans show lateralization with 90% of expenditure including electricity bills for running
adults being right handed that is suggestive of genetic air‑conditioners. Approximately 10% of personal
predisposition running in families.[14,15] monthly expenditure was incurred on mobile phones.
Sociodemography had little statistical bearing on these
Our data reiterate that most people perform their activities
results also. It is noted that over the years, the utility and
of daily living using their right hand. Of the right‑handed
dependency of mobile phone is increasing among youth
people, most held their mobile phones to their right ear,
that may have profound adverse health consequences
either owing to motor preference of using their right
including psychological, visual, and auditory ill‑effects.
hand or because of an aspect of auditory dominance,
a finding that is consistent with other observational In conclusion, our study reiterates that of all the
studies that most people prefer to listen with their right participants, 94.0% were right handed while 6% were left
ear.[16,17] Similar results were found in preclinical students handed in terms of dominant hand for undertaking routine
in a university of Benin, Nigeria.[18] Sociodemography activities. Overall right ear preference was noted among
had little bearing on these results. It is reported that 95  (81.1%) participants  (among with either of dominant
having a hearing difference does have an impact on hand); right sided  (right hand‑right ear) laterality was
ear preference.[17] First, persons who hear better in their observed in 85.4% and left‑sided (left hand‑left ear)
left ear are more likely to use the left ear regardless of laterality in 85.7% with overall laterality (same hand‑same
handedness. Second, persons who hear equally well ear) of 85.4% among study participants.
in both ears are more likely to use their dominant Financial support and sponsorship
hand‑side ear and the same‑side ear. Third, for those who
Nil.
hear better in the right ear, the probability of using the
dominant hand side with a cell phone is  >50% as in our Conflicts of interest
case. Therefore, preference usage of contralateral ear by a There are no conflicts of interest.
person may suggest hearing impairment in the ipsilateral
side requiring audiometric confirmation. References
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