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PLoS One. 2010 Feb 3;5(2):e9031. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009031.

Effects of caller characteristics on auditory laterality in an early primate (Microcebus murinus).

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  • 1Institute of Zoology, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Hannover, Germany.



Auditory laterality is suggested to be characterized by a left hemisphere dominance for the processing of conspecific communication. Nevertheless, there are indications that auditory laterality can also be affected by communicative significance, emotional valence and social recognition.


In order to gain insight into the effects of caller characteristics on auditory laterality in the early primate brain, 17 gray mouse lemurs were tested in a head turn paradigm. The head turn paradigm was established to examine potential functional hemispheric asymmetries on the behavioral level. Subjects were presented with playbacks of two conspecific call types (tsak calls and trill calls) from senders differing in familiarity (unfamiliar vs. familiar) and sex (same sex vs. other sex). Based on the head turn direction towards these calls, evidence was found for a right ear/left hemisphere dominance for the processing of calls of the other sex (Binomial test: p = 0.021, N = 10). Familiarity had no effect on the orientation biases.


The findings in this study support the growing consensus that auditory laterality is not only determined by the acoustic processing of conspecific communication, but also by other factors like the sex of the sender.

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