Magnetic field alters hand preference

  In an extraordinary experiment, researchers at the University of California found that volunteers’ hand choice was changed when they were subjected to a powerful magnetic field.

Although the effects lasted till the magnet was switched on, the study threw light on the origin of hand choice in the brain, the researchers said.

It also highlighted how easy it is to change people’s behaviour with magnets.

Dr Flavio Oliveira, who led the study, said: “We are not really looking at handedness, but at hand choice. We found that in situations where people are almost equally likely to use their left or right hand, we can make them use their left hand more by stimulating this part of the brain.” Before you reach out to press an elevator button or grab a coffee cup, your brain is making a decision about which hand to use. “We are handicapping one of the hands so that the other one wins,” Dr Oliveira said.

Earlier this year, a similar study showed that magnetic therapy can alter people’s moral judgments — and make them behave more thoughtlessly.

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