At first glance most of us look symmetrical, but in fact there are lots of differences between the two halves of our bodies. What does this tell us about the way our brains work?

As part of the getBRAINY school workshops scheme run by Edinburgh Neuroscience, CCACE is offering a workshop entitled getBALANCED. It’s designed to show S3 pupils how measurements of body symmetry can tell us about a whole range of processes, including brain function, which relate to cognitive ageing.

The session will start with a short introduction by workshop leaders. Depending on the time available, students will visit up to 4 stations (around 10 minutes per station). The stations are designed to investigate the differences between the left and right sides of the human body, using hands as an example, and to relate these differences to brain function.

Physical differences (Stations 1 and 2)

Pupils will investigate some of the physical differences between the left and right sides of their bodies by analysing their fingerprint patterns and by scanning and measuring their hands.

Functional differences (Stations 3 and 4).

Pupils will compare the dexterity of their left and right hands using a pegboard test, and record which hand they use for a variety of everyday tasks. They’ll also use a computer-based test to measure their reaction speed and to see if this varies depending on which hand they’re using.

Students will record their own scores on a datasheet which they can take home if they wish. Data from the stations will be entered into computers by workshop leaders and the results will be presented to the class. The aim will be to examine the link between body asymmetry, left/right handedess and reaction time (which is used in this instance as an indicator of brain processing speed).

Workshop leaders would NOT be carrying out experiments on the students. Any data collected on the day would be destroyed.

If you’re a teacher and you’d like to register your interest in hosting the workshop at your school, please contact Dr Kate McAllister (CCACE Knowledge Exchange Officer) by e-mailing or phoning 0131 650 3368.