Social Environment Elicits Lateralized Behaviors in Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

Quaresmini, C., Forrester, G.S., Spiezio, C. and Vallortigara, G. 2014. Social Environment Elicits Lateralized Behaviors in Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Journal of Comparative Psychology. 128 (3), pp. 276-84. doi:10.1037/a0036355

TitleSocial Environment Elicits Lateralized Behaviors in Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)
AuthorsQuaresmini, C., Forrester, G.S., Spiezio, C. and Vallortigara, G.
Abstract

The influence of the social environment on lateralized behaviors has now been investigated across a wide variety of animal species. New evidence suggests that the social environment can modulate behavior. Currently, there is a paucity of data relating to how primates navigate their environmental space, and investigations that consider the naturalistic context of the individual are few and fragmented. Moreover, there are competing theories about whether only the right or rather both cerebral hemispheres are involved in the processing of social stimuli, especially in emotion processing. Here we provide the first report of lateralized social behaviors elicited by great apes. We employed a continuous focal animal sampling method to record the spontaneous interactions of a captive zoo-living colony of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and a biological family group of peer-reared western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). We specifically focused on which side of the body (i.e., front, rear, left, right) the focal individual preferred to keep conspecifics. Utilizing a newly developed quantitative corpus-coding scheme, analysis revealed both chimpanzees and gorillas demonstrated a significant group-level prefer- ence for focal individuals to keep conspecifics positioned to the front of them compared with behind them. More interestingly, both groups also manifested a population-level bias to keep conspecifics on their left side compared with their right side. Our findings suggest a social processing dominance of the right hemisphere for context-specific social environments. Results are discussed in light of the evolu- tionary adaptive value of social stimulus as a triggering factor for the manifestation of group-level lateralized behaviors.

Keywordsbehavior
cerebral lateralization
chimpanzee
gorilla
social stimuli
JournalJournal of Comparative Psychology
Journal citation128 (3), pp. 276-84
Year2014
PublisherAmerican Psychological Association
Accepted author manuscriptQuaresmini et al_Uncorrected proofs.doc
Publisher's versionQuaresmini et al. 2014.pdf
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1037/a0036355
Publication dates
Published21 Apr 2014

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