The hippocampus skews ’right,’ especially in males, plus the righty-lefty distinction may go back 5 million years
New MRI-based studies present more evidence that the brains of chimpanzees are human-like in terms of the relationships among brain asymmetry, handedness and language, according to research undertaken at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta. Understanding our evolutionary cousins helps us to understand what makes us human. Two related reports appear in the December issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, which is published by the American Psychological Association (APA).
In the first study, Hani Freeman, BA, Claudio Catalupo, PhD (also with Georgia State University), and William Hopkins, PhD (also with Berry College), took magnetic resonance images of 60 chimpanzees to measure the anatomy of two key structures in their brains’ limbic systems, an early-evolving central region that includes the hippocampus and amygdala. In the MRI pictures, the hippocampus (which regulates learning and consolidation of spatial memory, mood, appetite and sleep) was asymmetrical, its right half significantly larger than its left. This asymmetry was bigger in males. These findings are consistent with studies of human hippocampi, which are also asymmetrical. At the same time, just as in humans, the amygdalas of the chimps were symmetrical.
Pam Willenz | EurekAlert!
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