Dermatoglyphic fluctuating asymmetry and atypical handedness in schizophrenia

James L. Reilly*, Peter T. Murphy, Majella Byrne, Conall Larkin, Michael Gill, Eadbhard O'Callaghan, Abbie Lane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Atypical handedness and dermatoglyphic abnormalities are hypothesized to reflect a neurodevelopmental disturbance in schizophrenia. Developmental instability, indexed by dermatoglyphic fluctuating asymmetry (FA), reflects the degree to which an individual's ontogenetic program is maintained and provides a useful framework in which to consider atypical handedness in schizophrenia. Thirty patients diagnosed with schizophrenia were compared with 37 matched healthy controls on levels of dermatoglyphic FA, a demonstration task determining hand preference and a test of relative hand skill. Multivariate analyses established that patients demonstrated greater FA and more atypical hand skill compared with controls. In patients, but not in controls, there was a strong positive association between a measure of FA and a measure of atypical hand skill, suggesting that these markers of neurodevelopmental disturbance are related in schizophrenia. On a measure of hand preference, patients were more likely than controls to be classified as mixed handed than either right or left handed. Results from the present study support the conjecture of greater developmental instability in schizophrenia affecting neurodevelopmental processes, including those conferring manual dominance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-168
Number of pages10
JournalSchizophrenia Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2001


  • Dermatoglyphics
  • Developmental instability
  • Handedness
  • Lateralization
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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