Hemispheric Specialization Tied to Lateralized Motor Preference in Human and Non-Human Primates

Quaresmini, Caterina (2011) Hemispheric Specialization Tied to Lateralized Motor Preference in Human and Non-Human Primates. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis


In literature there are large discrepancies about methods to assess cerebral lateralization in both human and nonhuman primate populations. This study aimed to allow valid comparisons across different primate species by employing a quantitative Multidimensional Method. A comprehensive range of interactions with both social and non-social targets were considered to verify which aspects might elicit the manifestation of lateralized behaviours underpinned by asymmetrical neuronal functions. Spontaneous activities were observed in two groups of zoo great apes, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), and a group of 3-4 year-old typical pre-school children. Results demonstrated a strong consistency in both human and non-human species for a right-hand/left hemisphere dominance during contact with inanimate targets (i.e. objects and environmental items), suggesting a evolutionary hemispheric specialization influenced by object animacy. Additionally, both great ape species significantly preferred to keep conspecifics closer than 3 metres to their left during manual activities, suggesting a right hemisphere specialization for emotion processing. Only the silverback gorilla (alpha male) manifested the opposite pattern, potentially related to his hierarchical role within the gorilla society. No side preference was found in typical children however, their young age may indicate that they are still undergoing hemispheric development for emotion processing. This study supports an evolutionary origin of hemispheric specialization underling manipulative and social asymmetric behaviours that occurred prior to the split of humans from great apes.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Cognitive and Brain Sciences
PhD Cycle:XXIV
Subjects:Area 11 - Scienze storiche, filosofiche, pedagogiche e psicologiche > M-PSI/02 PSICOBIOLOGIA E PSICOLOGIA FISIOLOGICA
Repository Staff approval on:13 Dec 2011 11:22

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