A word in your ear, Tom. The Hollywood star's problems with women - he's divorced from two and broken up with several - may be solely down to his tendency to whisper sweet nothings to the wrong side of the head.
According to new research, the key to capturing the attentions of a lover could be boosted massively by whispering into the left ear. Men and women are able to accurately identify and recall more than 70 per cent of emotional words like love, kiss and passion with their left ear, compared to only 58 per cent with the right.
This is because the left ear is controlled by the right side of the brain, the so-called emotional side, and triggers much better responses from prospective lovers.
The findings may also help to explain why mothers mostly cradle babies on their left side, closer to the left ear, and why some research shows that listening to music with the left ear can be more stimulating.
In the studies, to be published by Sam Houston State University in the US, 100 men and women wore earphones to listen to a number of emotional and neutral words being read in each ear separately. The words were read without any emotion. Some time later, the volunteers were asked to write down the words they had heard in each ear. The results show that the test accuracy for emotional words was 70 per cent in the left ear, and 58 per cent in the right.
"This study examines the detection and classification of emotional words - angry, sad, happy - that are articulated in neutral tones. We found a left ear advantage and the results are consistent with the idea that the brain's right hemisphere is more adept at this task," said Dr Teow-Chong Sim, a neuropsychologist who led the study.
"It also provides strong support for the idea of a stronger memory for emotion words presented to the left ear. The findings are consistent with the role of the right hemisphere of the brain in the perception of emotional information."
Other research shows that music is also processed more effectively by the left ear and the right side of the brain, and that melodies are recognised more accurately by the left ear.
According to a separate study, the brain's left side processes information more logically, while the right is more intuitive. A third finding shows that, for mothers, "left-cradling not only directs maternal communication to the infant's right hemisphere but also facilitates effective feedback to the maternal right brain".
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