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Have you ever hesitated when someone said, “__Turn left__.”

If so, you’re not alone. Surveys show that at least 1-in-5 people have what’s known as “left hand confusion”... which means they struggle to tell their left from right side without thinking about it, or using some kind of trick to remember. If that’s you, don't be embarrassed. Research shows that left hand confusion is NOT a sign of being a slow thinker or “dumb.” In fact, the ability to distinguish left from right is actually incredibly complicated.

That’s according to Dr. Gerard Gormley, a senior lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast, in Ireland. He says just hearing the words “left” and “right” taps into some of our highest-level brain functions... including our ability to process visual information, language and memory. The problem is that the words “left” and “right” aren’t as self-explanatory as the words “up” and “down,” or “front” and “back.”

They don’t immediately conjure up an image of a direction.

For instance: If you hold something out and let go, the direction it falls will always be “down”... and whatever direction you’re facing will always be your “front.” But when someone says, “turn left,” we have to think about which direction that is.