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Keywords:

  • gray matter;
  • handedness;
  • hemispheric asymmetry;
  • tool use

Abstract

Modern neuroimaging technologies allow scientists to uncover interspecies differences and similarities in hemispheric asymmetries that may shed light on the origin of brain asymmetry and its functional correlates. We analyzed asymmetries in ratios of white to grey matter in the lateral aspect of the lobes of the brains of chimpanzees. We found marked leftward asymmetries for all lobar regions. This asymmetry was particularly pronounced in the frontal region and was found to be related to handedness for communicative manual gestures as well as for tool use. These results point to a continuity in asymmetry patterns between the human and chimpanzee brain, and support the notion that the anatomical substrates for lateralization of communicative functions and complex manipulative activities may have been present in the common hominid ancestor.