Complementary right and left hemifield use for predatory and agonistic behaviour in toads

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Abstract

CEREBRAL lateralization, the differing specializations of the right and left sides of the brain once thought to be unique of humans, is now well known to occur in both birds and mammals. Here we report that in toads the right hemisfield of vision guides predatory tongue-striking responses towards moving prey and the left hemisfield guides agnostic tongue-striking responses towards conspecifics. This indicates, for the first time, complementary cerebral specializations for visual processing in anurans, and strongly supports the hypothesis that lateralized brain functions in birds and mammals may have arisen from a common lateralized ancestor. Complementary specializations in visual processing may have originally evolved to avoid problem of response competition during control of medial organs such as the tongue in organisms with laterally placed eyes and, in organisms with wider binocular overlap, it appears to be retained for initial detection of stimuli in the extreme lateral fields.

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