, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 303-308

Visual laterality in dolphins when looking at (un)familiar humans

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Abstract

Understanding the evolution of brain lateralisation including the origin of human visual laterality requires an understanding of brain lateralisation in related animal species. However, little is known about the visual laterality of marine mammals. To help correct this lack, we evaluated the influence of familiarity with a human on the visual response of five captive bottlenose dolphins. Dolphins gazed longer at unfamiliar than at familiar humans, revealing their capacity to discriminate between these two types of stimuli. Pooled data for responses to all test stimuli demonstrated a preferential use of left eye by all our five dolphin subjects. However, familiarity with particular humans did not influence preferential use of a given eye. Finally, we compared our results with those on other vertebrates.