Relationships between personality and lateralisation of sensory inputs

Kyriacos Kareklas*, Gareth Arnott, Robert W. Elwood, Richard A. Holland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
230 Downloads (Pure)


In humans and other vertebrates, sensory information is sometimes lateralized towards one brain hemisphere that dominates the control of a task. Although sensory lateralization may depend on the stimuli being processed, the degree or direction of lateralization can differ according to behavioural phenotype. Accordingly, personality may play an important role in lateralization, yet there is a lack of evidence regarding how lateralizations are utilized to process information and promote a personality-based response to a particular situation. Here we show that simultaneous stimulus processing and organization of personality-based responses can be accomplished via differences in laterality between senses. We demonstrate this by examining novel object inspection in the weakly electric fish Gnathonemus petersii. We found that electrosensing is lateralized in this species, but differently between personality phenotypes: bold fish were lateralized towards the right hemisphere and timid fish the left. By contrast, visual laterality did not vary with personality; rather the left hemisphere was dominant across the population, as is common for fish when visually analysing unfamiliar objects. This evidence reveals differences in functional laterality between sensory systems and the role of personality in eliciting these differences. The species has a stronger input of electrical signals than visual signals in its brain; therefore, sensory representation in the brain might drive the laterality differences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-135
Number of pages9
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Early online date14 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • electrosensing
  • hemispheric functions
  • novel object inspection
  • personality
  • sensory laterality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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