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Behav Brain Res. 2006 Oct 16;173(2):237-45. Epub 2006 Aug 17.

Manual laterality in Campbell's Monkeys (Cercopithecus c. campbelli) in spontaneous and experimental actions.

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Department of Human Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 3TU, UK.


Behavioural asymmetries, once thought to be exclusively human, appear to be widespread in vertebrates. A population-level bias should stem from natural selection and reflect a cerebral dominance, while individual preferences might be linked to individual characteristics. Manual laterality has been extensively investigated in non-human primates. However, despite a strong data base, no general patterns have emerged, resulting in a few explanatory theories and little consensus. This study was interested in manual laterality in 12 Campbell's monkeys (Cercopithecus c. campbelli). Several theories were examined, using both direct behavioural observations during feeding behaviour and six controlled experimental conditions, in which we varied task demands to investigate the effect of two factors. We systematically varied the individual posture (sat, tripedal, bipedal, clung) and the complexity of the task (box with or without a lid to open). Concerning the direction of preference, we found individual and action-specific preferences for experimental actions, which match previous reports. No population bias emerged and each subject appeared to react differently to the factors, hereby contradicting the theories. However, concerning the strength of preference, all individuals tended to be affected in similar ways. Spontaneous actions were less lateralized than experimental ones, and the simplest task and spontaneous category tended to show the weakest laterality. The relative complexity and novelty of these actions may account for these results.

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