Differential contributions of right and left brains to paw skill in right- and left-pawed female rats

Elalmis D., Ozgunen K., Binokay S., Tan M., Ozgunen T., Tan U.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, vol.113, no.8, pp.1023-1042, 2003 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 113 Issue: 8
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/00207450390204068
  • Page Numbers: pp.1023-1042


Paw Preference and paw frequency was studied in female rats. Paw Preference was assessed using a modified version of food reaching task in quadrupedal position. Of 68 rats, 56 (82.4%) were right-handed, 7 (10.3%) were left-handed, and 5 (74%) were mixed-handed. There were significantly more right-handers than left-handers. The distribution of right (R) minus left (L) paw reach (R+L=50) was not U-shaped, it was J-shaped like in humans. Estrus cycle was a significant factor influencing the right-paw entry scores: most of left-handers were in estrus and proestrus, most of left-handers were in estrus, and most of mixed-handers were in postestrus. In right- and non-right-handers, the frequency of right-paw usage (right-hand skill) increased linearly with testing days, but the frequency of left-hand usage (left-hand skill) did not show significant changes with the successive testing days. Controlling for body weight and estrus only accentuated these results. It was concluded that distribution of hand preference in rats is J-shaped and there is a right-sided population bias in handedness in rats like in humans. The results suggested that motor learning in paw skill is mainly involved the left brain in right- and mixed-handed rats, not the right brain: only the left brain has the inbuilt capacity for motor learning in female rats. Such an asymmetric cognitive control in an animal model may have a major impact in many aspects of biology in respect to normal functioning, superior talents, and disease (see Geschwind, 1985).