We're all taught at a young age how to tell the difference between our right and our left.
But for some, it doesn't quite stick. According to research, between 19 and 27 percent of people have trouble distinguishing between the two directions.
Researcher Gerard Gormley explains,
Discriminating between left and right is a complex neuron-psychological process involving several higher brain functions. These include the ability to integrate touch, sound, and sight information, language function, and memory.
The researcher, from Queen's University Belfast, recently conducted an experiment to determine how prevalent the issue is among students.
First, he surveyed 234 medical students to gather data on their perceived ability in distinguishing between the two directions.
He subsequently tested all of the students in “stressful” environments, to determine how quickly they could differentiate the two while distracted.
Gormley concluded that not only were most worse at left/right classification than they thought, but that percentage jumped considerably when the students were monitored in the more hectic environments.
Our findings were startling. Even the background noise of a ward environment was enough to throw some medical students off when making right-left judgements.
This so-called "distraction effect" was more prevalent in older and female students.
Gormley notes that difficulties telling between the two directions isn't necessarily bad, but it could be dangerous in certain situations (such as if you're a doctor performing surgery).
So, directional dummies: Always remember the “L” trick and you'll be fine -- even if you can't tell up from down.
PS: Take this test to see how you stack up against others.