Population-Level Right Handedness for a Coordinated Bimanual Task in Chimpanzees: Replication and Extension in a Second Colony of Apes.

Division of Psychobiology, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, 954 Gatewood Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30322.
International Journal of Primatology (Impact Factor: 1.99). 07/2003; 24(3):677-689. DOI: 10.1023/A:1023752816951
Source: PubMed


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the reliability of previously published findings on hand preferences in chimpanzees by evaluating hand use in a second colony of captive chimpanzees. We assessed hand preferences for a coordinated bimanual task in 116 chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and compared them to previously published findings in captive chimpanzees at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center. The new sample showed significant population-level right handedness, which is consistent with previously published findings in the Yerkes chimpanzees. Combined data on the 2 chimpanzee colonies, revealed a significant effect of rearing history on hand preference, with wild-caught chimpanzees showing less right-handedness than captive-born mother-reared chimpanzees. We discuss the results in terms of the role of early environment on the development of laterality.

Download full-text


Available from: Steven J Schapiro,
  • Source
    • "Several hypotheses identify factors that may have exerted selective pressure for the emergence of handedness, such as postural demands, bipedalism , tool use, gestural communication and language, precise actions, and bimanual coordination (Cashmore et al., 2008). Contradicting the traditional view that our species is the only one to exhibit hemispheric and behavioral lateralization, possibly owing to a link between hemispheric asymmetry and language, several studies have demonstrated group-level handedness in large groups of nonhuman primates species for specific tasks (for reviews, see (MacNeilage et al., 1987; Fagot and Vauclair, 1991; Bradshaw and Rogers, 1993; Ward and Hopkins, 1993; Westergaard and Suomi, 1996; Spinozzi et al., 1998; Hopkins et al., 2003; Zhao et al., 2012). However, some researchers have claimed that reports of group-level handedness in nonhuman primates could be due to experiential, environmental, and/or situational factors (McGrew and Marchant, 1997; Palmer, 2002; Papademetriou et al., 2005). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This is the first study to examine hand preferences in Tonkean macaques on a bimanual task. One of our objectives was to continue the move toward greater task standardization, in order to facilitate comparisons between species and studies on handedness. The main aim was to test and determine task robustness, by varying intra-task complexity. To this end, we administered several different tasks to the subjects: two unimanual tasks (grasping task featuring items of different sizes) and three coordinated bimanual tasks (tube task involving different materials, weights, and diameters). Although we found no significant hand preference in either task at the group level, the macaques were more strongly lateralized for small items than for large ones in the unimanual grasping task. Moreover, the absence of a correlation between these two versions of the unimanual task confirmed the weakness of this grasping task for assessing handedness. Regarding the bimanual tube task, no difference was found between the three versions in either the direction or the strength of hand preference. Moreover, the highly correlated hand preferences between these three versions suggest that the tube task provides a more robust means of measuring manual preferences. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Physical Anthropology 11/2013; 152(3). DOI:10.1002/ajpa.22342 · 2.38 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Human population-level right-handedness has been theorized to have evolutionary links with gesture [15] [16], speech [17], tool use [e.g. 18,19], coordinated bimanual actions [20] [21], posture [22] and bipedalism [23] [24]. Scientists have been drawn to the unique coupling of manual action and brain organization for skilled communication in the hopes that it may shed light on the origins of human language. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Our objective was to demonstrate that human population-level, right-handedness, is not species specific, precipitated from language areas in the brain, but rather is context specific and inherited from a behavior common to both humans and great apes. In general, previous methods of assessing human handedness have neglected to consider the context of action, or employ methods suitable for direct comparison across species. We employed a bottom-up, context-sensitive method to quantitatively assess manual actions in right-handed, typically developing children during naturalistic behavior. By classifying the target to which participants directed a manual action, as animate (social partner, self) or inanimate (non-living functional objects), we found that children demonstrated a significant right-hand bias for manual actions directed toward inanimate targets, but not for manual actions directed toward animate targets. This pattern was revealed at both the group and individual levels. We used a focal video sampling, corpus data-mining approach to allow for direct comparisons with captive gorillas (Forrester et al. Animal Cognition 2011;14(6):903-7) and chimpanzees (Forrester et al. Animal Cognition, in press). Comparisons of handedness patters support the view that population-level, human handedness, and its origin in cerebral lateralization is not a new or human-unique characteristic. These data are consistent with the theory that human right-handedness is a trait developed through tool use that was inherited from an ancestor common to both humans and great apes.
    Behavioural Brain Research 09/2012; 237C:200-206. DOI:10.1016/j.bbr.2012.09.037 · 3.03 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Additionally, the causal link between the emergence of right-handedness and language evolution remains a hotly debated topic (Corballis 2003; Vauclair 2005). Within an evolutionary context, it has been suggested that right-handedness emerged as a result of speech (Annett 2002), gestural language (Corballis 2002; Hopkins et al. 2005), tool use (Breuer et al. 2005; Greenfield 1991), coordinated bimanual actions (Hopkins et al. 2003; Wundrum 1986), posture (MacNeilage et al. 1987) and bipedalism (Braccini et al. 2010; Westergaard et al. 1998). To investigate these evolutionary hypotheses, many researchers study the behaviors of our closest living biological relatives . "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We employed a bottom-up, quantitative method to investigate great ape handedness. Our previous investigation of gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) demonstrated that contextual information influenced an individual's handedness toward target objects. Specifically, we found a significant right-hand bias for unimanual actions directed toward inanimate target objects but not for actions directed to animate target objects (Forrester et al. in Anim Cogn 14(6):903-907, 2011). Using the identical methodological technique, we investigated the spontaneous hand actions of nine captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) during naturalistic, spontaneous behavior. We assessed both the frequencies and proportions of lateralized hand actions directed toward animate and inanimate targets employing focal follow video sampling. Like the gorillas, the chimpanzees demonstrated a right-handed bias for actions directed toward inanimate targets, but not toward animate targets. This pattern was evident at the group level and for the majority of subjects at the individual level. We postulate that a right-hand bias for only inanimate targets reflects the left hemisphere's dominant neural processing capabilities for objects that have functional properties (inanimate objects). We further speculate that a population-level right-hand bias is not a human-unique characteristic, but one that was inherited from a common human-ape ancestor.
    Animal Cognition 07/2012; 15(6):1121-7. DOI:10.1007/s10071-012-0536-4 · 2.58 Impact Factor
Show more