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Behav Brain Res. 1999 Dec;106(1-2):175-80.

Roots of brain specializations: preferential left-eye use during mirror-image inspection in six species of teleost fish.

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Department of General Psychology, Università di Padova, Italy.


It has recently been reported that predator inspection is more likely to occur when a companion (i.e. the mirror image of the test animal) is visible on the left rather than on the right side of mosquitofish Gambusia holbrooki. This very unexpected outcome could be consistent with the hypothesis of a preferential use of the right eye during sustained fixation of a predator as well as of a preferential use of the left eye during fixation of conspecifics. We measured the time spent in monocular viewing during inspection of their own mirror images in females of six species of fish, belonging to different families-G. holbrooki, Xenotoca eiseni, Phoxinus phoxinus, Pterophyllum scalare, Xenopoecilus sarasinorun, and Trichogaster trichopterus. Results revealed a consistent left-eye preference during sustained fixation in all of the five species. Males of G. holbrooki, which do not normally show any social behaviour, did not exhibit any eye preferences during mirror-image inspection. We found, however, that they could be induced to manifest a left-eye preference, likewise females, if tested soon after capture, when some affiliative tendencies can be observed. These findings add to current evidence in a variety of vertebrate species for preferential involvement of structures located in the right side of the brain in response to the viewing of conspecifics.

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