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J Comp Psychol. 1989 Mar;103(1):91-4.

Note on hand use in the manipulation of joysticks by rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).

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Department of Psychology, Georgia State University, Atlanta 30303.


In a recent article MacNeilage, Studdert-Kennedy, and Lindblom (1987) proposed that nonhuman primate handedness may be contingent on the specific task requirements with visual-spatial tasks yielding left-hand preferences and fine motor tasks producing right-hand preferences. This study reports hand preferences in the manipulation of joysticks by 2 rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) and 3 chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Reach data were also collected on these same subjects and served as a basis for comparison with preference data for manipulation of the joystick. The data indicated that all 5 subjects demonstrated significant right-hand preferences in manipulating the joystick. In contrast, no significant hand preferences were found for the reach data. Reaction time data also indicated that the right hand could perform a perceptual-motor task better than the left hand in all 5 subjects. Overall, the data indicate that reach tasks may not be sensitive enough measures to produce reliable hand preferences, whereas tasks that assess fine motor control produce significant hand preferences.

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