, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 183-197
Date: 31 Jan 2009

Manual Laterality for Simple Reaching and Bimanual Coordinated Task in Naturalistic Housed Pan troglodytes

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Researchers have shown renewed interest in the study of manual lateralization in chimpanzees. Currently there is no consensus confirming the presence or absence of manual dominance at a species level, mainly for populations in the wild and in semicaptivity. We aimed to evaluate the manual laterality in a group of chimpanzees in an intermediate setting (semicaptivity) via 2 tasks: one simple and unimanual (simple reaching) and the other complex and bimanual (tube task). We replicated the same experiments from Hopkins in a new and different sample of chimpanzees. In simple reaching, the hand is used to gather food and the type of grip and the posture are evaluated. The tube task assesses the hand used to extract food from the tube and the method of extraction (digital or instrumental). Through the handedness index we observed that the subjects show clear and strong individual preferences for both tasks (100% lateralized subjects in the tube task; 86% in simple reaching), although we did not detect population preferences for any of the tasks. However, considering both tasks jointly (multiple evaluation), it was possible to detect, for the first time, skilled manual dominance at a group level in semicaptive chimpanzees in one multitask index and borderline significance in a second multitask index.