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Sex And Handedness Influences On Monkeys' Brains Similar To Humans

Date:
September 4, 2007
Source:
Hiram College
Summary:
Both sex and handedness influences on the relative size of the corpus callosum. Capuchin monkeys are playful, inquisitive primates known for their manual dexterity, complex social behavior, and cognitive abilities. New research now shows that just like humans, they display a fundamental sex difference in the organization of the brain, specifically in the corpus callosum, the region that connects the two cerebral lobes.
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Male capuchins were found to have a smaller relative size of the corpus callosum than females, and right-handed individuals showed a smaller relative size of the corpus callosum than left-handed individuals.
Credit: iStockphoto/Jeryl Tan

Capuchin monkeys are playful, inquisitive primates known for their manual dexterity, complex social behavior, and cognitive abilities. New research now shows that just like humans, they display a fundamental sex difference in the organization of the brain, specifically in the corpus callosum, the region that connects the two cerebral lobes.

A recently published paper by Associate Professor of Psychology and Biology Kimberley A. Phillips (Hiram College), Chet C. Sherwood (George Washington University) and Alayna L. Lilak (Hiram College), reports finding both sex and handedness influences on the relative size of the corpus callosum. 

In the study, thirteen adult capuchins underwent magnetic resonance imaging of the brain to determine the size of their corpus callosum, which is the major white matter tract connecting the left and right cerebral hemispheres. The monkeys were later given a task to determine hand preference. The authors' results led them to conclude that, as in humans, male capuchins have a smaller relative size of the corpus callosum than females, and right-handed individuals have a smaller relative size of the corpus callosum than left-handed individuals.

As the two hemispheres show greater independence of function, the relative size of the corpus callosum is expected to be smaller. This has been documented in humans, and same pattern was found in capuchins. Phillips and her co-authors hypothesize their results are related to hemispheric specialization for complex foraging tasks that require the integration of motor actions and visuospatial information. In the wild, capuchin monkeys utilize both arboreal and terrestrial substrates and are also noted for being very adept at capturing small rapid prey, such as birds, lizards, and squirrels.

Citation: Phillips KA, Sherwood CC, Lilak AL (2007) Corpus Callosum Morphology in Capuchin Monkeys Is Influenced by Sex and Handedness. PLoS One 2(8): e792.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000792


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Hiram College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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Hiram College. "Sex And Handedness Influences On Monkeys' Brains Similar To Humans." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070829143613.htm>.
Hiram College. (2007, September 4). Sex And Handedness Influences On Monkeys' Brains Similar To Humans. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070829143613.htm
Hiram College. "Sex And Handedness Influences On Monkeys' Brains Similar To Humans." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070829143613.htm (accessed August 5, 2015).

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