Laterality in modern medicine: a historical overview of animal laterality, human laterality, and current influences in clinical practice

Frank W. de Jongh, Sjaak Pouwels, Zoë E. Kooreman, Elijah E. Sanches, Emily Aupers, Dharmanand Ramnarain, Carien H.G. Beurskens, Stan J. Monstrey, Ietske Siemann, Nicol C. Voermans, Koen J.A.O. Ingels, Nasser Sakran

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


K.C. Garrison was the first to define laterality. Later on, this definition was widely accepted and is as follows: “preference in the use of homologous parts on one lateral half of the body over those on the other: dominance in function of one of a pair of lateral homologous parts studies of the laterality of individuals in the performance of different tasks.” So, laterality is the asymmetry of bilateral structures or biases in behavior in living organisms. This review aims to overview the history of laterality and applications in animals, its neurobiological basis, and related theories and concepts. Secondly, this review aims to give a translation of laterality applicable to the normal human face and the distorted face. Thirdly, we will give a few examples of laterality in anatomy and clinical diseases and finally some recommendations and directions for future research in this field. Laterality is a concept that can be best understood from an evolutionary perspective; this review emphasizes the neurobiological evidence in evolutionary biology, cerebral hemisphere specialization and left-right differences, the asymmetries in the face, body, and its clinical implications. As the studies in laterality evolve, potential greater understanding of cerebral processes will be obtained and might give new insights in treatment. The adaptive value of brain and behavioral asymmetries should be integrated into surgical practice. Level of evidence: Not gradable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)897-910
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Plastic Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Clinical practice
  • General surgery
  • Hemispheric specialization
  • Laterality
  • Left–right differences
  • Plastic surgery


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