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Study Finds Brain Dictates Which Ear Cell Phones Go To

Update Date: May 17, 2013 01:17 PM EDT

A new study conducted by researchers from the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit discovered that the brain determines which ear gets to hear cell phone calls. The researchers, headed by Michael Seidman, M.D., FACS, wanted to study the relationship between brain dominance and cell phone usage. They discovered a positive correlation between a person's dominant brain sides, either the left or the right, and the frequency of using one ear over the other in cell phone conversations. The research team believed that these findings could help determine speech and language activity in the brain.

"Our findings have several implications, especially for mapping the language center of the brain," Seidman, who is also the director of the division of otologic and neurotologic surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Henry Ford explained. "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 part of the brain to sleep in order to map activity."

The researchers created an online survey that was able to predict hand and brain dominance with the help of the Edinburgh Handedness protocol. Questions included identifying dominant writing hand and dominant ear used for cell phones, and reporting any tumors related to the brain, head or neck. Around 5,000 people who were either a WADA patient or a part of an otology online group answered the survey. The researchers found that 540 minutes per month was the average amount of cell phone usage. 90 percent of the participants were right-handed, nine percent were left-handed and one percent was ambidextrous.

The statistics revealed that 68 percent of right-handed participants also used their right ear to listen to their cell phones, 25 percent used their left ear and seven percent used both ears. For left-handed people, 72 percent used their left ear, 23 percent used their right ear and five percent used both ears. The researchers were able to conclude a strong correlation between brain dominance and laterality of cell phone use. Based from these findings, the researchers plan on studying the correlation of the laterality of cell phone use and tumor growth.

The study was published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

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