Modulating Children’s Manual Preference Through Spontaneous Nondominant Hand Use

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Abstract

We evaluated the effect of repeated use of the nonpreferred hand on young children’s manual preference by positioning toys in the left hemifield in egocentric coordinates to induce right-handed 4–5-year-olds to use their left hands spontaneously. We induced motor activities in the laterally biased workspace by presenting tasks in a ludic context over different days, similar to their daily kindergarten experience. Preceding and following these lateralized experiences, the children were tested on a task requiring reaching, grasping, and inserting cards into a slot. In the 1-day retention assessment, we found that repeated use of the nonpreferred left hand in the previous phase led to increased use of the left hand to perform the probing task. Following 14 days of rest, the children with induced left-hand experiences used exclusively their left hands to manipulate the leftmost card positions. We propose that repeated use of the nonpreferred left hand leads to increased confidence to plan left-handed movements for subsequent tasks.

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