Study results will be presented Feb. 26 in San Diego at the 25th Mid-Winter Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology.
The study began with the simple observation that most people use their right hand to hold a cell phone to their right ear. This practice, Dr. Seidman says, is illogical since it is challenging to listen on the phone with the right ear and take notes with the right hand.
To determine if there is an association between sidedness of cell phone use and auditory or language hemispheric dominance, the Henry Ford team developed a online survey using modifications of the Edinburgh Handedness protocol, a tool used for more than 40 years to assess handedness and predict cerebral dominance.
The Henry Ford survey included questions about which hand was used for tasks such as writing; time spent talking on cell phone; whether the right or left ear is used to listen to phone conversations; and if respondents had been diagnosed with a brain or head and neck tumor.
It was distributed to 5,000 individuals who were either with an otology online group or a patient undergoing Wada and MRI for non-invasive localization purposes. More than 700 responded to the online survey.
On average, respondents' cell phone usage was 540 minutes per month.
The majority of respondents (90 percent) were right handed, 9 percent were left handed and 1 percent was ambidextrous.
Among those who are right handed, 68 percent reported that they hold the phone to their right ear, while 25 percent used the left ear and 7 percent used both right and left ears. For those who are left handed, 72 percent said they used their left ear for cell phone conversations, while 23 percent used their right ear and 5 percent had no preference.
The study also revealed that having a hearing difference can impact ear preference for cell phone use.
In all, the study
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Henry Ford Health System