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Keywords:

  • capuchin;
  • handedness;
  • complex tasks;
  • laterality;
  • Cebus

Abstract

Numerous studies investigating behavioral lateralization in capuchins have been published. Although some research groups have reported a population-level hand preference, other researchers have argued that capuchins do not show hand preference at the population level. As task complexity influences the expression of handedness in other primate species, the purpose of this study was to collect hand preference data across a variety of high- and low-level tasks to evaluate how task complexity influences the expression of hand preference in capuchins. We tested eleven captive brown capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) to determine if they show consistent hand preferences across multiple high- and low-level tasks. Capuchins were expected to display high intertask consistency across the high-level tasks but not the low-level tasks. Although most individuals showed significant hand preferences for each task, only two of the high-level tasks that involved similar hand motions were significantly positively correlated, indicating consistency of hand preference across these tasks only. None of the tasks elicited a group-level hand preference. High-level tasks elicited a greater strength of hand preference than did low-level tasks. No sex differences were found for the direction or strength of hand preference for any task. These results contribute to the growing database of primate laterality and provide additional evidence that capuchins do not display group-level hand preferences. Am. J. Primatol. 70:254–260, 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.