Stressful experiences recalled by 270 mothers beginning a year prior to pregnancy through to the end of pregnancy were compared for right, left, and mixed handed offspring of both sexes. For the male offspring, mothers of left handers recalled significantly more severe stress throughout pregnancy than mothers of either right or mixed handers. For the female offspring, no significant differences were found. Results were interpreted as consistent with the view that stress hormones secreted by the mother during pregnancy can significantly affect the hemispheric functioning of the neocortex of offspring.
Anderson, D.K., Rhees, R.W., and Fleming, D.E. (1985). Effects of prenatal stress on differentiation of the sexually dimorphic nucleus of the preoptic area (SDN-POA) of the rat brain. Brain Research, 332, 113-118.
Annett, M. (1985). Left, Right, Hand and Brain: The Right Shift Theory. London: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Annett, M. (1988). Comments on Lindesay: Laterality shift in homosexual men. Neuropsychologia, 26, 341-343.
Bakan, P., Dibb, G., & Reed, P. (1973). Handedness and birth stress. Neuropsychologic, 11, 363-366.
Bakan, P. (1990). Nonright-handedness and the continuum of reproductive casualty. In S. Coren (Ed.), Left-Handedness: Behavioral Implications and Anomalies (pp. 31-74). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Barlow, S.M., Knight, A. and Sullivan, F.M. (1978). Delay in postnatal growth and development of offspring produced by maternal restraint stress during pregnancy in the rat. Teratology, 18, 211-218.
Chamberlain, G. & Johnstone, F.D. (1975). Reliability of the history. Lancet, 1, 103.
Coren, S., Searleman, A., & Porac, C. (1982). The effects of specific birth stressors on four indexes of lateral preferences. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 36, 478-487.
Davidson, J.M., Smith, E.R., Levine, S. (1978a). Testosterone. In H. Ursine, E. Baade, & S. Levine (eds.), Psychobiohgy of Stress: A Study of Coping Men (pp. 57-62). New York, Academic Press.
Dawson, J.L. (1977). An anthropological perspective on the evolution and lateralization of the brain. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 299, 424-447.
Delahunt, J.W. and G. Mellsop, G. (1987). Hormone changes in stress. Stress Medicine, 3, 123-134.
Diamond, M.C. (1984). Age, sex, and environmental influences. In N. Geschwind, and A. MM. Galaburda (Eds.) Cerebral Dominance: The Biological Foundations (pp. 134-146). Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Diamond, M.C. (1988). Enriching Heredity. New York: Free Press.
Dorner, G., Schenk, B., Schmiedel, B. & Ahrens, L. (1983). Stressful events in prenatal life of bi- and homosexual men. Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology, 81, 83-87.
Ellis, L. (1990). Left- and mixed-handedness and criminality: Explanations for a probable relationship. In S. Coren (Ed.), Left-Handedness: Behavioral implications and anomalies (pp. 485-507). Amsterdam: North-Holland.
Ellis, L. and Ames, M.A. (1987). Neurohormonal functioning and sexual orientation: A theory of homosexuality-heterosexuality. Psychological Bulletin, 101, 233-258.
Ellis, L., Ames, M.A., Peckham, W., and Burke, D. (1988). Sexual orientation of human offspring may be altered by severe maternal stress during pregnancy. Journal of Sex Research, 25, 152-157.
Ellis, L., Burke, D. and Ames, M.A. (1987). Sexual orientation as a continuous variable: A comparison between the sexes. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 16, 523-529.
Fleming, D.E., Anderson, R.H., Rhees, R.W., Kinghorn, E. and Bakaitis, J. (1986). Effects of prenatal stress on sexually dimorphic asymmetries in the cerebral cortex of the male rat. Brain Research Bulletin, 16, 395-398.
Fride, E. and Weinstock, M. (1987). Increased interhemispheric coupling of the dopamine systems induced by prenatal stress. Brain Research Bulletin, 18, 457-461.
Fried, E. Weinstock, M. (1988). Prenatal stress increases anxiety related behavior and cerebral lateralization of dopamine activity. Life Sciences, 42, 1059-1065.
Geschwind, N. (1984). The biology of cerebral dominance: implications for cognition. Cognition, 17, 193-208.
Harding, C.F. (1981). Social modulation of circulating hormone levels in the male. American Zoologist, 213, 223-231.
Hicks, R.A., Dusek, C, Larsen, F., Williams, S. and Pellegrini, R.J. (1980). Birth complications and the distribution of handedness. Cortex, 16, 483-486.
Le Roux, A. (1979): Sex differences and the incidence of left-handedness. Journal of Psychology, 102, 261-262.
Levy, J. and Levy, J. (1978). Human lateralization from head to foot: sex related factors. Science, 200, 1291-1292.
Lewkowicz, D.J. and Turkewitz, G. (1982). Influence of hemispheric specialization in sensory processing on reaching in infants: age and gender related effects. Developmental Psychology, 18, 301-308.
Lindesay, J. (1987). Laterality shift in homosexual men. Neuropsychologic, 25, 965-969.
Oldfield, R.C. (1971). The assessment and analysis of handedness: The Edinburgh inventory. Neuropsychologic, 9, 97-113.
Rosenstein, L.D. and Bigler, E.D. (1987). No relationship between handedness and sexual preference. Psychological Reports, 60, 704-706.
Schwartz, M. (1988). Discrepancy between maternal report and hospital records. Developmental Neuropsychology, 4, 303-304.
Schwartz, M. (1990). Left-handedness and prenatal complications. In S. Coren (Ed.), Left-Handedness: Behavioral Implications and Anomalies, (pp. 75-97). Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Searleman, A., Porac, C, Coren, S. (1989). Relationship between birth order, birth stress, and lateral preferences: A critical review. Psychological Bulletin, 105, 397-408.
Teng, E.L., Lee, P., Yang, K., and Potter, C.C. (1976). Handedness in a Chinese population: biological, social and pathological factors. Science, 193, 1148-1150.
Ward, I.L. and Weisz, J. (1984). Differential effects of maternal stress on circulating levels of corticosterone, progesterone, and testosterone in male and female rat fetuses and their mothers. Endocrinology, 114, 1635-1644.
Zarrow, M., Philpott, J. and Denenberg, V. (1970). Passage of C-corticosterone from the rat mother to the foetus and neonate. Nature, 226, 1058-1059.
Lee Ellis, Ph.D., and William Peckham, B.S.
Lee Ellis received his doctorate at Florida State University, and currently teaches in the Departments of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Minot State University. His research interests include a wide range of behavior patterns, particularly as they may be influenced by neurohormonal factors. Recent publications include a book entitled Theories of Rape (Hemisphere, 1989), and a volume edited with Harry Hoffman, entitled Crime in Biological, Social, and Moral Contexts (Praeger, 1990). William Peckham holds bachelors degrees in physics and mathematics and in computer science at Minot State University. He has taught science and mathematics in high school, and has served as a computer consultant and collaborator on various research projects headed by the senior author. He is currently a systems analyst for St. Joseph's Hospital in Minot, North Dakota.
Address correspondence to Dr. Lee Ellis, Division of Social Science, Minot State University, Minot, ND 58702, USA.
JOURNAL OF PRENATAL AND PERINATAL PSYCHOLOGY AND HEALTH publishes research and clinical articles from the cutting edge of the science of prenatal and perinatal psychology and health. The journal, published quarterly since 1986, is dedicated to the in-depth exploration human reproduction and pregnancy and the mental and emotional development of the unborn and newborn child.