What would you lose if you didn't have a pinky finger? Often people consider the pinky (pinkie) as a decorative accessory of the hand.
However, hand therapist will confirm that with losing your little finger you will lose about 50 percent of your hand strenght.
Interestingly, sometimes the pinky is used for making hand gestures.
But more often the little finger is featured with abnormalities which appear to be related to certain problems in body and/or mind.
For example, only recently a Dutch researcher revealed that a 'curved' pinky is often seen in the hands of people who have autism!
The pinky, the humble fifth finger, is often considered as a bit of a decorative accessory: the little finger to crook daintily while sipping tea from a teacup.
Compared with the other fingers the pinky doesn't carry the heavy burdens of the pointer, the index finger, which pokes things importantly and flicks through the Rolodex on urgent missions.
The pinky also doesn't display your life's commitment with a belt of bright gold, as ring finger does.
And the pinky doesn't, like the middle finger, succinctly communicate impudence or defiance.
SO, WHAT IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE A PINKY FINGER?
"You'd lose 50 percent of your hand strength, easily," says Laurie Rogers, an occupational therapist who is a certified hand therapist at National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington.
Rogers explains that while the index and middle fingers function, with the thumb, in pinching and grabbing, zipping zippers, and buttoning buttons - the pinkie teams up with the ring finger to provide hand power.
RESEARCH: THE PINKY & AUTISM!
"The presence of small physical defects and the occurrence of autism often go together",
says researcher Ozgen et al of the UMC Utrecht [University Medical Center in Utrecht, The Netherlands].
This conclusion is the result of a meta-analysis of seven studies (published in: 1975-2005) in which the characteristics of 330 patients and 328 healthy controls are integrated. Ozgen became PhD on November 28 (2008), and the results were published in the journal 'Molecular Psychiatry'
(in january 2011 updated results were published in the journal 'Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders').
The most significant physical defects (MPA's) reported by Ozgen appear to be:
A 'curved' pinky finger (clinodactyly - see the picture on the right);
Toes slightly too far apart;
Deformed ear lobes;
A higher palate;
Eyes slightly further apart.
These are subtle physical defects without medical meaning, and cosmetic surgery is usually not necessary.
Ozgen noticed in her studies that these physical defects more often occure in patients with autistic disorders, compared to the healthy controls.
It is important to notice here that the clinical relevance of the 'minor physical anomalies' (MPA's) for autism is still not described very well; the 8 studies included in Ozgen's data-pool included (only) 12 to 19 MPA's.
Clinodactyly: a curved 5th finger.
NOTICE: Ozgen described that the occurrence of one or some of these abnormalities says nothing, but from an accumulation of 4 physical defects or more there appears to be a strong link with autism.
No details appear to be available yet for the significance of certain combinations of MPA's. The presence of one single MPA should NOT be recognized as a 'significant' symptom of autism - because MPA's can sometimes also be found in persons who do not have autism!!
How surprizing is this research result on the 'curved' pinky finger really?
Maybe not so surprizing at all!
For, in time a curved little finger has been related to up to over 60 medical syndromes, including: Klinefelter XXY syndrome, FAS: fetal alcohol syndrome (16% to 51%), and most common: Down syndrome (35% to 79%).
However, one should also noticed here that the 'curved' little finger can be seen in the hands of normal & healthy people as well, statistics have been reported varying from: 1% to 19.5%.
Another interesting link between the little finger & autism has been presented a few years earlier by the author of the present article (van Mensvoort, 2000-2003): THE HAND & AUTISM.
Research on the hands of 19 autistic young men has indicated that various dermatoglyphic features on the little finger + the palmar zone connected to the little finger can likely be related to autism:
In the fingerprints: 'double loops';
In the palmar zone: extra triradius d' + accessory loop; fused triradus; additional loop/whorl below the palmar triradius related the little finger.
NOTICE: More details about this dermatoglyphics research are presented in the article: THE HAND & AUTISM - including various references to other scientific studies which have related autism with fingerprints & palmar dermatoglyphics.
And last but not least: one can notice here that the relationship between the 5th finger and autism, should be valued in perspective with the DIGIT RATIO evidence presented by UK psychologist John T. Manning:
Autism is frequently featured with a 'low 2D:4D digit ratio' [= the ratio between the full length of the index finger (= 2th finger) & the full length of the ring finger (= 4th finger)].
How to measure the 'digit ratio' of a hand?
STEP 1: measure the full length of the index finger 2D [from tip to palm];
STEP 2: measure the full length of the ring finger 4D [from tip to palm];
STEP 3: calculate the 'digit ratio' as the quotient of: 2D/4D .
COMMON TROUBLES WITH PINKIES
In general one should be aware that congenital hand abnormalities are very often found in the little finger.
The most common congential abnormalities in the little finger are:
Clinodactyly: (see also: 'RESEARCH: THE PINKY & AUTISM!')
Concerns a bending or curvature of the finger in the plane of the palm is described as clinodactyly, a word derived from the Greek kliner, to bend, and dactylos, a finger.
Concers a flexion deformity at the proximal interphalangeal joint; from the Greek bent finger;
Single interdigital crease on 5th finger:
Usually the 4 four fingers have 2 horizontal creases which are related to the interdigital zone of the finger bones.
But some people have only one single interdigital line.
In normal healthy persons this hand feature is extremely rarely seen on the little finger. However, Rodewald & Wischerat (1979) have described that the 'single interdigit 5th finger crease' is a very common hand feature in: Down syndrome [trisomie 21] (26%), Edward syndrome [trisomie 18] (63% to 79%), Patau syndrome [trisomie 13] (5%), and only sometimes in other medical disorders.
Concerns an extra little finger;
Concerns 'webbed fingers' which occures in about 2000 to 3000 live births, however usually syndactyly concerns a fusion of the 3th & 4th finger (the long finger and the ring finger); only in very small percentage of syndactyly the fusion concerns the little finger as well: see TYPE III & TYPE IV in the picture below].
PINKY HAND GESTURES
An overview of some funny hand gestures related to the little pinkie (sometimes als named as the 'ear finger'):
"GIVE HIM THE LITTLE PINKIE":
In Australia the RTA launched a "little pinkie"-campaign including women crooking their little fingers at young men in fast cars: the 'little pinkie' hand gesture infers the men have small penises.
"HOOK 'EM HORNS":
In the United States college sports this hand gestures is associated with fans of the Texas Longhorns - George W. Bush (who lives in Texas) has frequently used the 'Hook 'm horns' hand gesture.
In this perspective the 'horns' are related to the horns of a bull (sometimes described as Sign of the Horned God).
However... you should be aware: in other countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal & Brazil) this hand gesture may have the meaning of a sexual insult!!
The Shaka sign - or: "hang loose" / "chilax" hand gesture - is a common greeting gesture, often seen in the beach and surfer culture.
"I LOVE YOU SIGN":
Made using a combination of the letters 'I', 'L', and 'Y' from American Sign Language. It is made by extending the thumb, index finger, and little finger while the middle and ring finger touch the palm.
However... you should be aware: this hand gesture is the symbol used to curse someone in Italian culture!!
DIGIT RATIO | FINGER RATIO