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Brain Lang. 2000 Jun 15;73(2):189-219.

Comparative neuropsychology of the dual brain: a stroll through animals' left and right perceptual worlds.

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Department of Psychology, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy.


Perceptual asymmetries in humans typically manifest themselves under quite unnatural settings (e.g., tachistoscopic viewing and dichotic listening) and this has put into question their real biological significance. In animals with laterally placed eyes, however, perceptual asymmetries are ubiquitous in the normal, everyday behavior, as revealed by the differential use of the lateral visual field of the left and right eye in a variety of tasks. Data are presented showing how preferential use of the left and right eyes influences visual discrimination learning and detour behavior in chicks; similarities with detour tests performed in fish and evidence for asymmetries in eye use in animals with larger binocular overlap (e.g., anuran amphibians) are discussed. Implications of these perceptual asymmetries on the formation and fate of memory traces are put forward, with examples from unihemispheric sleep and lateralization of spatial memory in chicks. Finally, speculations about the evolutionary origins and possible adaptive advantages of perceptual asymmetries in vertebrates are presented.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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