Physiological Psychology

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 351-359

First online:

Handedness and laterality in humans and other animals

  • J. M. WarrenAffiliated withPennsylvania State University


A survey of the developmental, genetic, paleoneurological, comparative behavior, and neuropsychological evidence indicates that the neural organization responsible for handedness and laterality in humans is a heritable, species-specific trait. Handedness and laterality in monkeys, the most intensively studied nonhuman taxon, are not homologous to handedness and laterality in humans. Monkeys learn hand preferences through experience and display no difference in learning by the hemispheres ipsi- and contralateral to the preferred hand. Differences in the functions of the two hemispheres are found in several other nonhuman species, but none has been correlated with paw preferences.