Individual-Level and Population-Level Lateralization: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Frasnelli, Elisa and Vallortigara, Giorgio (2018) Individual-Level and Population-Level Lateralization: Two Sides of the Same Coin. Symmetry, 10 (12). p. 739. ISSN 2073-8994

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Individual-Level and Population-Level Lateralization: Two Sides of the Same Coin
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Lateralization, i.e., the different functional roles played by the left and right sides of the brain, is expressed in two main ways: (1) in single individuals, regardless of a common direction (bias) in the population (aka individual-level lateralization); or (2) in single individuals and in the same direction in most of them, so that the population is biased (aka population-level lateralization). Indeed, lateralization often occurs at the population-level, with 60–90% of individuals showing the same direction (right or left) of bias, depending on species and tasks. It is usually maintained
that lateralization can increase the brain’s efficiency. However, this may explain individual-level lateralization, but not population-level lateralization, for individual brain efficiency is unrelated to the direction of the asymmetry in other individuals. From a theoretical point of view, a possible explanation for population-level lateralization is that it may reflect an evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) that can develop when individually asymmetrical organisms are under specific selective pressures to coordinate their behavior with that of other asymmetrical organisms. This prediction
has been sometimes misunderstood as it is equated with the idea that population-level lateralization should only be present in social species. However, population-level asymmetries have been observed in aggressive and mating displays in so-called “solitary” insects, suggesting that engagement in specific inter-individual interactions rather than “sociality” per se may promote population-level lateralization. Here, we clarify that the nature of inter-individuals interaction can generate evolutionarily stable strategies of lateralization at the individual- or population-level, depending on ecological contexts, showing that individual-level and population-level lateralization should be considered as two aspects of the same continuum.

Keywords:lateralization, individual-level, population-level, evolution, ESS, social interactions
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C182 Evolution
C Biological Sciences > C300 Zoology
C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:34497
Deposited On:13 Feb 2019 15:34

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