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Motor asymmetry in goats during a stepping task

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Behavioural lateralization consists of perceptual and motor lateralization and provides adaptive advantages such as a general increase in brain efficiency. Motor laterality refers to the preferred use of either left or right limbs or organs to perform a specific task. We investigated motor laterality in goats (Capra hircus), using the First-stepping Task. During this task, the first foreleg used to step off a board after standing with both forelimbs was recorded. Subjects varied individually in their expression of motor lateralization with 36.6% of subjects showing individual-level asymmetries. However, goats as a group did not show a preference for a specific foreleg or lateralization in general. Our results support the hypothesis that the need to coordinate behaviour among conspecifics might be important for determining the presence of lateralization at the population level. We suggest that future research investigates how social complexity might affect population-level asymmetries, and whether stimuli with high emotional valence impact on lateralization presence and level (i.e., individual or population).
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Keywords: Capra hircus; lateral bias; laterality; lateralization; ungulates

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS, USA 2: Biological and Experimental Psychology, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK

Publication date: September 3, 2018

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