Target animacy influences chimpanzee handedness

Forrester, Gillian S, Quaresmini, Caterina, Leavens, David A, Spiezio, Caterina and Vallortigara, Giorgio (2012) Target animacy influences chimpanzee handedness. Animal Cognition, 15 (6). pp. 1121-1127. ISSN 1435-9448

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Abstract

We employed a bottom-up, quantitative method to investigate the origins of great ape handedness. Our previous investigation of gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) demonstrated that contextual information influenced an individual’s handedness towards target objects. Specifically, we found a significant right-hand bias for unimanual actions directed towards inanimate target objects but not for actions directed to animate target objects (Forrester et al. 2011). Using the identical methodological technique, we investigated the spontaneous hand actions of nine captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) during naturalistic, spontaneous behavior. We assessed both the frequencies and proportions of lateralized hand actions directed towards animate and inanimate targets employing focal follow video sampling. Like the gorillas, the chimpanzees demonstrated a right-handed bias for actions directed towards inanimate targets, but not towards animate targets. This pattern was evident at the group level and for the majority of subjects at the individual level. We postulate that a right hand bias for only inanimate targets reflects the left hemisphere’s dominant neural processing capabilities for objects that have functional properties (inanimate objects). We further speculate that a population-level right hand bias is not a human-unique characteristic, but one that was inherited from a common human-ape ancestor.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Handedness; Animacy; Hemispheric specialization; Chimpanzee
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0660 Comparative psychology. Animal and human psychology
Depositing User: David Leavens
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2012 10:04
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2012 10:04
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/41626

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