Brain and behavioral lateralization in invertebrates

Frasnelli, Elisa (2013) Brain and behavioral lateralization in invertebrates. Frontiers in Psychology, 4 . p. 939. ISSN 1664-1078

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Traditionally, only humans were thought to exhibit brain and behavioral asymmetries, but several studies have revealed that most vertebrates are also lateralized. Recently, evidence of left–right asymmetries in invertebrates has begun to emerge, suggesting that lateralization of the nervous system may be a feature of simpler brains as well as more complex ones. Here I present some examples in invertebrates of sensory and motor asymmetries, as well as asymmetries in the nervous system. I illustrate two cases where an asymmetric brain is crucial for the development of some cognitive abilities. The first case is the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, which has asymmetric odor sensory neurons and taste perception neurons. In this worm left/right asymmetries are responsible for the sensing of a substantial number of salt ions, and lateralized responses to salt allow the worm to discriminate between distinct salt ions. The second case is the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, where the presence of asymmetry in a particular structure of the brain is important in the formation or retrieval of long-term memory. Moreover, I distinguish two distinct patterns of lateralization that occur in both vertebrates and invertebrates: individual-level and population-level lateralization. Theoretical models on the evolution of lateralization suggest that the alignment of lateralization at the population level may have evolved as an evolutionary stable strategy in which individually asymmetrical organisms must coordinate their behavior with that of other asymmetrical organisms. This implies that lateralization at the population-level is more likely to have evolved in social rather than in solitary species. I evaluate this new hypothesis with a specific focus on insects showing different level of sociality. In particular, I present a series of studies on antennal asymmetries in honeybees and other related species of bees, showing how insects may be extremely useful to test the evolutionary hypothesis.

Keywords:brain and behavioral lateralization, invertebrates, individual efficiency, directional asymmetry, evolutionarily stable strategy, bee, sociality
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C300 Zoology
C Biological Sciences > C182 Evolution
C Biological Sciences > C890 Psychology not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:30131
Deposited On:18 Apr 2018 14:55

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