Handedness and depression: A meta-analysis across 87 studies

Julian Packheiser, Judith Schmitz, Clara C. Stein, Lena Sophsie Pfeifer, Gesa Berretz, Marietta Papadatou-Pastou, Jutta Peterburs, Sebastian Ocklenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alterations in functional brain lateralization, often indicated by an increased prevalence of left- and/or mixed-handedness, have been demonstrated in several psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders like schizophrenia or autism spectrum disorder. For depression, however, this relationship is largely unclear. While a few studies found evidence that handedness and depression are associated, both the effect size and the direction of this association remain elusive. Here, we collected data from 87 studies totaling 35,501 individuals to provide a precise estimate of differences in left-, mixed- and non-right-handedness between depressed and healthy samples and computed odds ratios (ORs) between these groups. Here, an OR > 1 signifies higher rates of atypical handedness in depressed compared to healthy samples. We found no differences in left- (OR = 1.04, 95% CI = [0.95, 1.15], p = .384), mixed- (OR = 1.64, 95% CI = [0.98, 2.74], p = .060) or non-right-handedness (OR = 1.05, 95% CI = [0.96, 1.15], p = .309) between the two groups. We could thus find no link between handedness and depression on the meta-analytical level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-209
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • Asymmetry
  • Brain development
  • Depression
  • Handedness
  • Mental disorders
  • Meta-analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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