229 pages, 40 b/w photos and illustrations, tables
Asymmetry of the brain and behaviour (lateralization) has traditionally been considered unique to humans. However, research has shown that this phenomenon is widespread throughout the vertebrate kingdom and found even in some invertebrate species. A similar basic plan of organisation exists across vertebrates.
Summarising the evidence and highlighting research from the last twenty years, the authors discuss lateralization from four perspectives – function, evolution, development and causation – covering a wide range of animals, including humans. The evolution of lateralization is traced from our earliest ancestors, through fish and reptiles to birds and mammals. The benefits of having a divided brain are discussed, as well as the influence of experience on its development. A final chapter discusses outstanding problems and areas for further investigation.
Experts in this field, the authors present the latest scientific knowledge clearly and engagingly, making this a valuable tool for anyone interested in the biology and behaviour of brain asymmetries.
List of illustrations
6. Applications and future directions
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Lesley J. Rogers is Emeritus Professor at the Centre for Neuroscience and Animal Behaviour, University of New England, Armidale, Australia. A Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, she has made outstanding contributions to understanding brain development and behaviour, including the discovery of lateralization in the chick forebrain at a time when lateralization was thought to be unique to humans.
Giorgio Vallortigara is Professor of Neuroscience at the Centre for Mind/Brain Sciences, University of Trento, Rovereto, Italy. His research includes the study of spatial cognition in the avian brain, number and object cognition in animals and lateralization of cognition. He discovered functional brain asymmetry in the so-called 'lower' vertebrate species.
Richard J. Andrew is Emeritus Professor at the School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK. He has worked extensively on lateralized processes in memory formation in chicks and on behavioural transitions during early development. At present he uses zebrafish to explore the role of brain asymmetries in the generation of lateralized behaviour.