Brain Asymmetry of Structure and/or Function

A special issue of Symmetry (ISSN 2073-8994).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 July 2017) | Viewed by 77488

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Guest Editor
School of Science and Technology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia
Interests: lateralization of brain and behaviour in vertebrates and invertebrates; development of lateralization; evolution of lateralization; function of brain asymmetry; communication in birds and primates
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Left–right asymmetry is an important characteristic of the brain, as we now know from studies of many vertebrate species and, more recently, from studies of invertebrates. The commonality of this feature of the brain suggests that it affords all, or many, brains advantages in cognitive processing by, for example, allowing parallel and different processing of inputs on each side of the brain and by each side controlling different sets of outputs.

In some species, asymmetry of brain structure is clearly evident, as long known to be the case in humans, whereas, in other species, structural asymmetries are less obvious or not, as of yet, known to be present even though behavioural asymmetries are observable.

Research on asymmetry in a broad range of species, including humans, will be considered for this Special Issue and the focus of contributions may be on behavioural lateralization, asymmetries in anatomy or neural organisation, role of genes, hormones and environmental factors in the expression of lateralization and the likely advantages or disadvantages of having brain asymmetry. Furthermore, papers on factors influencing the development of brain asymmetry will be particularly relevant, and so will papers on the evolution of brain asymmetry. Reports of research findings on brain asymmetry, reviews and theoretical discussions of the role of asymmetry will be acceptable contributions.

Prof. Lesley J. Rogers
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • functional brain asymmetry
  • structural brain asymmetry
  • gene expression
  • environmental influences
  • hormonal influences
  • development
  • advantages
  • disadvantages
  • evolution

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Editorial

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1 pages, 133 KiB  
Editorial
Brain Asymmetry of Structure and/or Function
by Lesley J. Rogers
Symmetry 2019, 11(2), 214; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym11020214 - 13 Feb 2019
Viewed by 1563
Abstract
This book contains submissions to a Special Issue of Symmetry on the topic of brain asymmetry in humans (4 papers) and non-humans (7 papers) [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain Asymmetry of Structure and/or Function)

Research

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558 KiB  
Article
Effects of Handedness and Viewpoint on the Imitation of Origami-Making
by Natalie Uomini and Rebecca Lawson
Symmetry 2017, 9(9), 182; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym9090182 - 6 Sep 2017
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 4756
Abstract
The evolutionary origins of the human bias for 85% right-handedness are obscure. The Apprenticeship Complexity Theory states that the increasing difficulty of acquiring stone tool-making and other manual skills in the Pleistocene favoured learners whose hand preference matched that of their teachers. Furthermore, [...] Read more.
The evolutionary origins of the human bias for 85% right-handedness are obscure. The Apprenticeship Complexity Theory states that the increasing difficulty of acquiring stone tool-making and other manual skills in the Pleistocene favoured learners whose hand preference matched that of their teachers. Furthermore, learning from a viewing position opposite, rather than beside, the demonstrator might be harder because it requires more mental transformation. We varied handedness and viewpoint in a bimanual learning task. Thirty-two participants reproduced folding asymmetric origami figures as demonstrated by a videotaped teacher in four conditions (left-handed teacher opposite the learner, left-handed beside, right-handed opposite, or right-handed beside). Learning performance was measured by time to complete each figure, number of video pauses and rewinds, and similarity of copies to the target shape. There was no effect of handedness or viewpoint on imitation learning. However, participants preferred to produce figures with the same asymmetry as demonstrated, indicating they imitate the teacher's hand preference. We speculate that learning by imitation involves internalising motor representations and that, to facilitate learning by imitation, many motor actions can be flexibly executed using the demonstrated hand configuration. We conclude that matching hand preferences evolved due to socially learning moderately complex bimanual skills. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain Asymmetry of Structure and/or Function)
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1682 KiB  
Article
Effects of Emotional Valence on Hemispheric Asymmetries in Response Inhibition
by Sebastian Ocklenburg, Jutta Peterburs, Janet Mertzen, Judith Schmitz, Onur Güntürkün and Gina M. Grimshaw
Symmetry 2017, 9(8), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym9080145 - 5 Aug 2017
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 5970
Abstract
Hemispheric asymmetries are a major organizational principle in human emotion processing, but their interaction with prefrontal control processes is not well understood. To this end, we determined whether hemispheric differences in response inhibition depend on the emotional valence of the stimulus being inhibited. [...] Read more.
Hemispheric asymmetries are a major organizational principle in human emotion processing, but their interaction with prefrontal control processes is not well understood. To this end, we determined whether hemispheric differences in response inhibition depend on the emotional valence of the stimulus being inhibited. Participants completed a lateralised Go/Nogo task, in which Nogo stimuli were neutral or emotional (either positive or negative) images, while Go stimuli were scrambled versions of the same pictures. We recorded the N2 and P3 event-related potential (ERP) components, two common electrophysiological measures of response inhibition processes. Behaviourally, participants were more accurate in withholding responses to emotional than to neutral stimuli. Electrophysiologically, Nogo-P3 responses were greater for emotional than for neutral stimuli, an effect driven primarily by an enhanced response to positive images. Hemispheric asymmetries were also observed, with greater Nogo-P3 following left versus right visual field stimuli. However, the visual field effect did not interact with emotion. We therefore find no evidence that emotion-related asymmetries affect response inhibition processes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain Asymmetry of Structure and/or Function)
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365 KiB  
Article
How Ecology Could Affect Cerebral Lateralization for Explorative Behaviour in Lizards
by Beatrice Bonati, Caterina Quaresmini, Gionata Stancher and Valeria Anna Sovrano
Symmetry 2017, 9(8), 144; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym9080144 - 5 Aug 2017
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3451
Abstract
As recent studies have shown a left-eye preference during exploration in Podarcis muralis, which could be strictly related to its territoriality, we tested the same behaviour in a similar species, but one living in different habitats and showing a different ecology. In [...] Read more.
As recent studies have shown a left-eye preference during exploration in Podarcis muralis, which could be strictly related to its territoriality, we tested the same behaviour in a similar species, but one living in different habitats and showing a different ecology. In particular, we assessed the preferential turning direction in adults of a non-territorial lizard, Zootoca vivipara, during the exploration of an unknown maze. At the population level, no significant preference emerged, possibly for the lack of the territorial habit and the characteristics of the natural environment. Nevertheless, females turned to the left more frequently than males did. We hypothesize this as a motor bias, possibly due to a necessity for females to be coordinated and fast in moving in the environment, because of their viviparous condition and the resultant reduction of physical performance during pregnant periods, which are likely to increase vulnerability to predators. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain Asymmetry of Structure and/or Function)
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9356 KiB  
Article
Distribution of Antennal Olfactory and Non-Olfactory Sensilla in Different Species of Bees
by Elisa Frasnelli and Giorgio Vallortigara
Symmetry 2017, 9(8), 135; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym9080135 - 28 Jul 2017
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 4083
Abstract
Several species of social bees exhibit population-level lateralization in learning odors and recalling olfactory memories. Honeybees Apis mellifera and Australian social stingless bees Trigona carbonaria and Austroplebeia australis are better able to recall short- and long-term memory through the right and left antenna [...] Read more.
Several species of social bees exhibit population-level lateralization in learning odors and recalling olfactory memories. Honeybees Apis mellifera and Australian social stingless bees Trigona carbonaria and Austroplebeia australis are better able to recall short- and long-term memory through the right and left antenna respectively, whereas non-social mason bees Osmia rufa are not lateralized in this way. In honeybees, this asymmetry may be partially explained by a morphological asymmetry at the peripheral level—the right antenna has 5% more olfactory sensilla than the left antenna. Here we looked at the possible correlation between the number of the antennal sensilla and the behavioral asymmetry in the recall of olfactory memories in A. australis and O. rufa. We found no population-level asymmetry in the antennal sensilla distribution in either species examined. This suggests that the behavioral asymmetry present in the stingless bees A. australis may not depend on lateral differences in antennal receptor numbers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain Asymmetry of Structure and/or Function)
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Article
Audition and Hemispheric Specialization in Songbirds and New Evidence from Australian Magpies
by Gisela Kaplan
Symmetry 2017, 9(7), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym9070099 - 28 Jun 2017
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 6799
Abstract
The neural processes of bird song and song development have become a model for research relevant to human acquisition of language, but in fact, very few avian species have been tested for lateralization of the way in which their audio-vocal system is engaged [...] Read more.
The neural processes of bird song and song development have become a model for research relevant to human acquisition of language, but in fact, very few avian species have been tested for lateralization of the way in which their audio-vocal system is engaged in perception, motor output and cognition. Moreover, the models that have been developed have been premised on birds with strong vocal dimorphism, with a tendency to species with complex social and/or monomorphic song systems. The Australian magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) is an excellent model for the study of communication and vocal plasticity with a sophisticated behavioural repertoire, and some of its expression depends on functional asymmetry. This paper summarizes research on vocal mechanisms and presents field-work results of behavior in the Australian magpie. For the first time, evidence is presented and discussed about lateralized behaviour in one of the foremost songbirds in response to specific and specialized auditory and visual experiences under natural conditions. It presents the first example of auditory lateralization evident in the birds’ natural environment by describing an extractive foraging event that has not been described previously in any avian species. It also discusses the first example of auditory behavioral asymmetry in a songbird tested under natural conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain Asymmetry of Structure and/or Function)
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643 KiB  
Article
Early- and Late-Light Embryonic Stimulation Modulates Similarly Chicks’ Ability to Filter out Distractors
by Cinzia Chiandetti, Bastien S. Lemaire, Elisabetta Versace and Giorgio Vallortigara
Symmetry 2017, 9(6), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym9060084 - 8 Jun 2017
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 4894
Abstract
Chicks (Gallus gallus) learned to run from a starting box to a target located at the end of a runway. At test, colourful and bright distractors were placed just outside the starting box. Dark incubated chicks (maintained in darkness from fertilization [...] Read more.
Chicks (Gallus gallus) learned to run from a starting box to a target located at the end of a runway. At test, colourful and bright distractors were placed just outside the starting box. Dark incubated chicks (maintained in darkness from fertilization to hatching) stopped significantly more often, assessing more the left-side distractor than chicks hatched after late (for 42 h during the last three days before hatching) or early (for 42 h after fertilization) exposure to light. The results show that early embryonic light stimulation can modulate this particular behavioural lateralization comparably to the late application of it, though via a different route. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain Asymmetry of Structure and/or Function)
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818 KiB  
Article
Lateralization of the Avian Magnetic Compass: Analysis of Its Early Plasticity
by Dennis Gehring, Onur Güntürkün, Wolfgang Wiltschko and Roswitha Wiltschko
Symmetry 2017, 9(5), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym9050077 - 19 May 2017
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 5958
Abstract
In European Robins, Erithacus rubecula, the magnetic compass is lateralized in favor of the right eye/left hemisphere of the brain. This lateralization develops during the first winter and initially shows a great plasticity. During the first spring migration, it can be temporarily [...] Read more.
In European Robins, Erithacus rubecula, the magnetic compass is lateralized in favor of the right eye/left hemisphere of the brain. This lateralization develops during the first winter and initially shows a great plasticity. During the first spring migration, it can be temporarily removed by covering the right eye. In the present paper, we used the migratory orientation of robins to analyze the circumstances under which the lateralization can be undone. Already a period of 1½ h being monocularly left-eyed before tests began proved sufficient to restore the ability to use the left eye for orientation, but this effect was rather short-lived, as lateralization recurred again within the next 1½ h. Interpretable magnetic information mediated by the left eye was necessary for removing the lateralization. In addition, monocularly, the left eye seeing robins could adjust to magnetic intensities outside the normal functional window, but this ability was not transferred to the “right-eye system”. Our results make it clear that asymmetry of magnetic compass perception is amenable to short-term changes, depending on lateralized stimulation. This could mean that the left hemispheric dominance for the analysis of magnetic compass information depends on lateralized interhemispheric interactions that in young birds can swiftly be altered by environmental effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain Asymmetry of Structure and/or Function)
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1715 KiB  
Article
Asymmetry for Symmetry: Right-Hemispheric Superiority in Bi-Dimensional Symmetry Perception
by Giulia Prete, Mara Fabri, Nicoletta Foschi and Luca Tommasi
Symmetry 2017, 9(5), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym9050076 - 18 May 2017
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 5286
Abstract
A right-hemispheric superiority has been shown for spatial symmetry perception with mono-dimensional stimuli (e.g., bisected lines). Nevertheless, the cerebral imbalance for bi-dimensional stimuli is still controversial, and the aim of the present study is to investigate this issue. Healthy participants and a split-brain [...] Read more.
A right-hemispheric superiority has been shown for spatial symmetry perception with mono-dimensional stimuli (e.g., bisected lines). Nevertheless, the cerebral imbalance for bi-dimensional stimuli is still controversial, and the aim of the present study is to investigate this issue. Healthy participants and a split-brain patient (D.D.C.) were tested in a divided visual field paradigm, in which a square shape was presented either in the left or right visual field and they were asked to judge whether a dot was placed exactly in the center of the square or off-center, by using the left/right hand in two separate sessions. The performance of healthy participants was better when the stimuli presented in the left visual field (LVF) were on-center rather than off-center. The performance of D.D.C. was higher than chance only when on-center stimuli were presented in the LVF in the left hand session. Only in this condition did his accuracy not differ with respect to that of the control group, whereas in all of the other conditions, it was lower than the controls’ accuracy. We conclude that the right-hemispheric advantage already shown for mono-dimensional stimuli can be extended also to bi-dimensional configurations, confirming the right-hemispheric superiority for spatial symmetry perception. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain Asymmetry of Structure and/or Function)
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653 KiB  
Article
The Genetics of Asymmetry: Whole Exome Sequencing in a Consanguineous Turkish Family with an Overrepresentation of Left-Handedness
by Sebastian Ocklenburg, Ceren Barutçuoğlu, Adile Öniz Özgören, Murat Özgören, Esra Erdal, Dirk Moser, Judith Schmitz, Robert Kumsta and Onur Güntürkün
Symmetry 2017, 9(5), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym9050066 - 1 May 2017
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 10744
Abstract
Handedness is the most pronounced behavioral asymmetry in humans. Genome-wide association studies have largely failed to identify genetic loci associated with phenotypic variance in handedness, supporting the idea that the trait is determined by a multitude of small, possibly interacting genetic and non-genetic [...] Read more.
Handedness is the most pronounced behavioral asymmetry in humans. Genome-wide association studies have largely failed to identify genetic loci associated with phenotypic variance in handedness, supporting the idea that the trait is determined by a multitude of small, possibly interacting genetic and non-genetic influences. However, these studies typically are not capable of detecting influences of rare mutations on handedness. Here, we used whole exome sequencing in a Turkish family with history of consanguinity and overrepresentation of left-handedness and performed quantitative trait analysis with handedness lateralization quotient as a phenotype. While rare variants on different loci showed significant association with the phenotype, none was functionally relevant for handedness. This finding was further confirmed by gene ontology group analysis. Taken together, our results add further evidence to the suggestion that there is no major gene or mutation that causes left-handedness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain Asymmetry of Structure and/or Function)
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Review

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975 KiB  
Review
Lateralized Functions in the Dog Brain
by Marcello Siniscalchi, Serenella D’Ingeo and Angelo Quaranta
Symmetry 2017, 9(5), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym9050071 - 13 May 2017
Cited by 46 | Viewed by 16193
Abstract
Understanding the complementary specialisation of the canine brain has been the subject of increasing scientific study over the last 10 years, chiefly due to the impact of cerebral lateralization on dog behaviour. In particular, behavioural asymmetries, which directly reflect different activation of the [...] Read more.
Understanding the complementary specialisation of the canine brain has been the subject of increasing scientific study over the last 10 years, chiefly due to the impact of cerebral lateralization on dog behaviour. In particular, behavioural asymmetries, which directly reflect different activation of the two sides of the dog brain, have been reported at different functional levels, including motor and sensory. The goal of this review is not only to provide a clear scenario of the experiments carried out over the last decade but also to highlight the relationships between dogs’ lateralization, cognitive style and behavioural reactivity, which represent crucial aspect relevant for canine welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain Asymmetry of Structure and/or Function)
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221 KiB  
Review
A Matter of Degree: Strength of Brain Asymmetry and Behaviour
by Lesley J. Rogers
Symmetry 2017, 9(4), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym9040057 - 18 Apr 2017
Cited by 59 | Viewed by 6386
Abstract
Research on a growing number of vertebrate species has shown that the left and right sides of the brain process information in different ways and that lateralized brain function is expressed in both specific and broad aspects of behaviour. This paper reviews the [...] Read more.
Research on a growing number of vertebrate species has shown that the left and right sides of the brain process information in different ways and that lateralized brain function is expressed in both specific and broad aspects of behaviour. This paper reviews the available evidence relating strength of lateralization to behavioural/cognitive performance. It begins by considering the relationship between limb preference and behaviour in humans and primates from the perspectives of direction and strength of lateralization. In birds, eye preference is used as a reflection of brain asymmetry and the strength of this asymmetry is associated with behaviour important for survival (e.g., visual discrimination of food from non-food and performance of two tasks in parallel). The same applies to studies on aquatic species, mainly fish but also tadpoles, in which strength of lateralization has been assessed as eye preferences or turning biases. Overall, the empirical evidence across vertebrate species points to the conclusion that stronger lateralization is advantageous in a wide range of contexts. Brief discussion of interhemispheric communication follows together with discussion of experiments that examined the effects of sectioning pathways connecting the left and right sides of the brain, or of preventing the development of these left-right connections. The conclusion reached is that degree of functional lateralization affects behaviour in quite similar ways across vertebrate species. Although the direction of lateralization is also important, in many situations strength of lateralization matters more. Finally, possible interactions between asymmetry in different sensory modalities is considered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain Asymmetry of Structure and/or Function)
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