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Behav Neurosci. 2004 Dec;118(6):1176-83.

Handedness in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) is associated with asymmetries of the primary motor cortex but not with homologous language areas.

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  • 1Division of Psychobiology, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA. lrcbh@rmy.emory.edu


The neurobiology of hand preferences in nonhuman primates is poorly understood. In this study, the authors report the first evidence of an association between hand preference and precentral gyrus-morphology in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Hand preferences did not significantly correlate with other asymmetric brain regions associated with language functions in humans including the planum temporale and frontal operculum. The overall results suggest that homologous regions of the motor cortex control hand preferences in humans and apes and that these functions evolved independently of left-hemisphere specialization for language and speech.

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