Abstract # 1006 Event # 1:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 18, 2005 08:15 AM-09:15 AM: (Mayfair Room) Keynote Address


LEFT, RIGHT, HAND AND BRAIN: HEMISPHERIC SPECIALIZATION IN CHIMPANZEES

W. Hopkins1,2
1Div. of Psychobiology, Yerkes Nat. Prim. Res. Ctr., Atlanta, GA 30322, USA, 2Department of Psychology, Berry College
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     Hemispheric specialization refers to lateralized motor, perceptual and cognitive functions to the left and right cerebral hemispheres. Two of the most pronounced behavioral and cognitive manifestations of hemispheric specialization in humans are right handedness and left hemisphere dominance for language. Historically, hemispheric specialization has been considered a hallmark of human evolution as associated with the emergence of complex motor and cognitive skills such as tool use and language. I present evidence of behavioral and neuroanatomical asymmetries in chimpanzees and discuss them in relation to different theories of the evolution of hemispheric specialization. I also review factors that influence individual differences in laterality and discuss the consequences of variation in laterality for individual fitness. Finally, I argue that, rather than being a uniquely human trait, hemispheric specialization is manifest in many primate species and reflects specific ecological and cognitive adaptations. Supported by NIH grants NS-36605 and NS-42867.