Different Bodies, Different Minds

Sunday, February 14, 2016: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Coolidge (Marriott Wardman Park)
Daniel Casasanto, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
People are not all the same. Human bodies differ in ways that make some people interact with the world differently than others. These differences can shape our brains and minds in ways that scientists are just starting to discover. One obvious difference is that some people are right-handed and some left-handed. This matters for major-league pitchers and batters, but how does it affect the rest of us? According to new research, righties and lefties think, feel, and act differently, in ways that may influence what we buy, who we find attractive, and even who we vote for. Changing the way people use their hands, even for a few minutes, can change the way they think. Making a rightie act like a leftie can make them think like a leftie. The way we use our hands may also determine how emotions are wired in our brains. This discovery has urgent public health implications since treatments for depression and other mental disorders that affect millions of people were designed for right-handers – and may be detrimental to everyone else.