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Keywords:

  • hemispheric specialization;
  • bimanual coordination;
  • age;
  • manual skill;
  • old-world monkeys

Abstract

Bimanual tasks have been repeatedly shown to elicit manual asymmetries supposed to reflect hemispheric specialization. And yet, a coordinated bimanual task, the BOX task, appears to be inefficient in detecting biases of hand preferences. The BOX task involves two sequential actions requiring a precise grip, lift the lid of a box and grasp a small item inside the box (while holding the lid). In the present study, we compared manual laterality exhibited for the classic bimanual BOX task and for a unimanual BOX task in 11 De Brazza's monkeys (Cercopithecus neglectus) and 19 red-capped mangabeys (Cercocebus torquatus). In addition, we assessed strategy use for solving the bimanual BOX task. We found that left-hand use for grasping the item was higher in the BOX-bimanual task than in the BOX-unimanual task. We propose that this increase in left-hand use for grasping the item results from both a hemispheric specialization for lifting the lid and an advantage in using a skillful strategy. Indeed, we revealed (1) group-level right biases for lifting the lid and (2) a complete differentiation between the roles of the two hands in subjects showing a left-hand preference for grasping the item. Finally, the bimanual BOX task showed age differences in the two species, either in manual laterality for grasping the item or in strategy use. This study provides additional evidence that manual laterality might be sensitive to maturational factors and characteristics of the bimanual tasks such as the order and the features of sequential actions. Am. J. Primatol. 75:1096–1107, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.