It is widely acknowledged that the left and right hemispheres of human brains display both anatomical and functional asymmetries. For more than a century, brain and behavioral lateralization have been considered a uniquely human feature linked to language and handedness. However, over the past decades this idea has been challenged by an increasing number of studies describing structural asymmetries and lateralized behaviors in non-human species extending from primates to fish. Evidence suggesting that a similar pattern of brain lateralization occurs in all vertebrates, humans included, has allowed the emergence of different model systems to investigate the development of brain asymmetries and their impact on behavior. Among animal models, fish have contributed much to the research on lateralization as several fish species exhibit lateralized behaviors. For instance, behavioral studies have shown that the advantages of having an asymmetric brain, such as the ability of simultaneously processing different information and perform parallel tasks compensate the potential costs associated with poor integration of information between the two hemispheres thus helping to better understand the possible evolutionary significance of lateralization. However, these studies inferred how the two sides of the brains are differentially specialized by measuring the differences in the behavioral responses but did not allow to directly investigate the relation between anatomical and functional asymmetries. With respect to this issue, in recent years zebrafish has become a powerful model to address lateralization at different level of complexity, from genes to neural circuitry and behavior. The possibility of combining genetic manipulation of brain asymmetries with cutting-edge in vivo imaging technique and behavioral tests makes the zebrafish a valuable model to investigate the phylogeny and ontogeny of brain lateralization and its relevance for normal brain function and behavior.

Brain and Behavioral Asymmetry: A Lesson From Fish

Miletto Petrazzini M. E.
;
Sovrano V. A.;Messina A.
2020

Abstract

It is widely acknowledged that the left and right hemispheres of human brains display both anatomical and functional asymmetries. For more than a century, brain and behavioral lateralization have been considered a uniquely human feature linked to language and handedness. However, over the past decades this idea has been challenged by an increasing number of studies describing structural asymmetries and lateralized behaviors in non-human species extending from primates to fish. Evidence suggesting that a similar pattern of brain lateralization occurs in all vertebrates, humans included, has allowed the emergence of different model systems to investigate the development of brain asymmetries and their impact on behavior. Among animal models, fish have contributed much to the research on lateralization as several fish species exhibit lateralized behaviors. For instance, behavioral studies have shown that the advantages of having an asymmetric brain, such as the ability of simultaneously processing different information and perform parallel tasks compensate the potential costs associated with poor integration of information between the two hemispheres thus helping to better understand the possible evolutionary significance of lateralization. However, these studies inferred how the two sides of the brains are differentially specialized by measuring the differences in the behavioral responses but did not allow to directly investigate the relation between anatomical and functional asymmetries. With respect to this issue, in recent years zebrafish has become a powerful model to address lateralization at different level of complexity, from genes to neural circuitry and behavior. The possibility of combining genetic manipulation of brain asymmetries with cutting-edge in vivo imaging technique and behavioral tests makes the zebrafish a valuable model to investigate the phylogeny and ontogeny of brain lateralization and its relevance for normal brain function and behavior.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3421080
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