In a study to be published in the British Journal of Psychology, scientists compared the finger lengths of 75 children with their Standardised Assessment Test (SAT) scores.
They found a clear link between a child’s performance in numeracy and literacy tests and the relative lengths of their index (pointing) and ring fingers.
Scientists believe that the link is caused by different levels of the hormones testosterone and oestrogen in the womb – and the effect they have on both brain development and finger length.
“Testosterone has been argued to promote development of the areas of the brain which are often associated with spatial and mathematical skills,” said Dr Mark Brosnan, Head of the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, who led the study.
“Oestrogen is thought to do the same in the areas of the brain which are often associated with verbal ability.
“Interestingly, these hormones are also thought have a say in the relative lengths of our index and ring fingers.
“We can use measurements of these fingers as a way of gauging the relative exposure to these two hormones in the womb and as we have shown through this study, we can also use them to predict ability in the key areas of numeracy and literacy.”
The researchers made photocopies of the palm of the children’s hands and then measured the length of their index finger and ring finger on both hands using callipers, accurate to 0.01mm.
They then divided the length of the index finger by that of the ring finger – to calculate the child’s digit ratio.
When they compared this ratio to the children’s SAT scores, they found that a smaller ratio (i.e. a longer ring finger and therefore greater prenatal exposure to testosterone) meant a larger difference between ability in maths and literacy, favouring numeracy relative to literacy.
When they looked at boy’s and girl’s performance separately, the researchers found a clear link between high prenatal testosterone exposure, as measured by digit ratio, and higher numeracy SAT scores in males.
They also found a link between low prenatal testosterone exposure, which resulted in a shorter ring finger compared with the index finger, and higher literacy SAT scores for girls.
This, says the scientists behind the study, suggests that measurements of finger length could help predict how well children will do in maths and literacy.
“We’re not suggesting that finger length measurements could replace SAT tests,” said Dr Brosnan.
“Finger ratio provides us with an interesting insight into our innate abilities in key cognitive areas.
“We are also looking at how digit ratio relates to other behavioural issues, such as technophobia, and career paths.
“There is also interest in using digit ratio to identify developmental disorders, such as dyslexia, which can be defined in terms of literacy deficiencies.”
Andrew McLaughlin | alfa
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy