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An overview of some research into lateralisation: the dominance of one side of the body over the other
Creatures across the animal kingdom have a preference for one foot, eye or even antenna. The cause of this trait, called lateralisation, is fairly simple: one side of the brain, which generally controls the opposite side of the body, is more dominant than the other when processing certain tasks. This does, on some occasions, let the animal down: such as when a toad fails to escape from a snake approaching from the right, just because its right eye is worse at spotting danger than its left. So why would animals evolve a characteristic that seems to endanger them?
For many years it was assumed that lateralisation was a uniquely human trait, but this notion rapidly fell apart as researchers started uncovering evidence of lateralisation in all sorts of animals. For example, in the 1970s, Lesley Rogers, now at the University of New England in Australia, was studying memory and learning in chicks. She had been injecting a chemical into chicks brains to stop them learning how to spot grains of food among distracting pebbles, and was surprised to observe that the chemical only worked when applied to the left hemisphere of the brain. That strongly suggested that the right side of the chicks brain played little or no role in the learning of such behaviours. Similar evidence appeared in songbirds and rats around the same time, and since then, researchers have built up an impressive catalogue of animal lateralisation.
In some animals, lateralisation is simply a preference for a single paw or foot, while in others it appears in more general patterns of behaviour. The left side of most vertebrate brains, for example, seems to process and control feeding. Since the left hemisphere processes input from the right side of the body, that means animals as diverse as fish, toads and birds are more likely to attack prey or food items viewed with their right eye. Even humpback whales prefer to use the right side of their jaws to scrape sand eels from the ocean floor.
Genetics plays a part in determining lateralisation, but environmental factors have an impact too. Rogers found that a chick's lateralisation depends on whether it is exposed to light before hatching from its egg - if it is kept in the dark during this period, neither hemisphere becomes dominant. In 2004, Rogers used this observation to test the advantages of brain bias in chicks faced with the challenge of multitasking. She hatched chicks with either strong or weak lateralisation, then presented the two groups with food hidden among small pebbles and the threatening shape of a fake predator flying overhead. As predicted, the birds incubated in the light looked for food mainly with their right eye, while using the other to check out the predator. The weakly-lateralised chicks, meanwhile, had difficulty performing these two activities simultaneously.
Similar results probably hold true for many other animals. In 2006, Angelo Bisazza at the University of Padua set out to observe the differences in feeding behaviour between strongly-lateralised and weakly-lateralised fish. He found that strongly-lateralised individuals were able to feed twice as fast as weakly-lateralised ones when there was a threat of a predator looming above them. Assigning different jobs to different brain halves may be especially advantageous for animals such as birds or fish, whose eyes are placed on the sides of their heads. This enables them to process input from each side separately, with different tasks in mind.
And what of those animals who favour a specific side for almost all tasks? In 2009, Maria Magat and Culum Brown at Macquarie University in Australia wanted to see if there was general cognitive advantage in lateralisation. To investigate, they turned to parrots, which can be either strongly right- or left-footed, or ambidextrous (without dominance). The parrots were given the intellectually demanding task of pulling a snack on a string up to their beaks, using a co-ordinated combination of claws and beak. The results showed that the parrots with the strongest foot preferences worked out the puzzle far more quickly than their ambidextrous peers.
A further puzzle is why are there always a few exceptions, like left-handed humans, who are wired differently from the majority of the population? Giorgio Vallortigara and Stefano Ghirlanda of Stockholm University seem to have found the answer via mathematical models. These have shown that a group of fish is likely to survive a shark attack with the fewest casualties if the majority turn together in one direction while a very small proportion of the group escape in the direction that the predator is not expecting.
This imbalance of lateralisation within populations may also have advantages for individuals. Whereas most co-operative interactions require participants to react similarly, there are some situations - such as aggressive interactions - where it can benefit an individual to launch an attack from an unexpected quarter. Perhaps this can partly explain the existence of left-handers in human societies. It has been suggested that when it comes to hand-to-hand fighting, left-handers may have the advantage over the right-handed majority. Where survival depends on the element of surprise, it may indeed pay to be different.
Complete each sentence with the correct ending, A-F, below.
Write the correct letter, A-F, in boxes 27-30 on your answer sheet.
27 In the 1970s, Lesley Rogers discovered that
28 Angelo Bisazza’s experiments revealed that
29 Magat and Brown’s studies show that
30 Vallortigara and Ghirlanda’s research findings suggest that
A lateralisation is more common in some species than in others.
B it benefits a population if some members have a different lateralisation than the majority.
C lateralisation helps animals do two things at the same time.
D lateralisation is not confined to human beings.
E the greater an animal’s lateralisation, the better it is at problem-solving.
F strong lateralisation may sometimes put groups of animals in danger.
Questions 31-35 Complete the summary below.
Choose ONE WORD ONLY from the passage for each answer.
Write your answers in boxes 31-35 on your answer sheet.
Lesley Rogers’ 2004 Experiment
Lateralisation is determined by both genetic and 31__________ influences. Rogers found that chicks whose eggs are given 32__________ during the incubation period tend to have a stronger lateralisation. Her 2004 experiment set out to prove that these chicks were better at 33__________ than weakly lateralised chicks. As expected, the strongly lateralised birds in the experiment were more able to locate 34__________ using their right eye, while using their left eye to monitor an imitation 35__________ located above them.
Reading Passage 3 has eight paragraphs, A-H.
Which paragraph contains the following information?
Write the correct letter, A-H, in boxes 36-40 on your answer sheet.
NB You may use any letter more than once.
36 description of a study which supports another scientist’s findings
37 the suggestion that a person could gain from having an opposing lateralisation to most of the population
38 reference to the large amount of knowledge of animal lateralisation that has accumulated
39 research findings that were among the first to contradict a previous belief
40 a suggestion that lateralisation would seem to disadvantage animals
定位原文：B段最后两句“That strongly suggested that the right side … animal lateralisation.”
解题思路：利用人名Lesley Rogers作为关键词，定位到B段，关于Lesley Rogers所做的实验发现，需要具体定位到B段最后2句话，“这有力地表明，在这些行为的学习中，小鸡的大脑右侧发挥了很少或没有作用。类似的证据在同一时期还出现在鸣禽和老鼠身上，自此研究人员就建立了一个可观的动物偏侧目录”。对照选项，D选项“偏侧现象不只出现在人类身上”是对定位句的大意概括。
定位原文：E段最后两句“Assigning different jobs to different brain … with different tasks in mind.”
解题思路：用人名Angelo Bisazza作为关键词，定位到E段，关于Angelo Bisazza所做的实验发现，需要具体定位到E段最后2句话，“给左右脑分配不同的任务，对于动物特别有利，比如鸟类或鱼类，它们的眼睛在头部两侧。这使他们能从两侧分别输入，使大脑处理不同的任务”。对照选项，C选项的“偏侧帮助动物在同一时间做两件事情”是对定位句的大意概括。
关键词：Magat and Brown
定位原文：F段最后一句“The results showed that the parrots with the strongest foot preferences worked out the puzzle far more quickly than their ambidextrous peers.”
解题思路：利用人名Magat and Brown作为关键词，定位到F段，关于Magat和Brown的研究发现，需要具体定位到F段的段尾句，注意这里的foot preference是指实验中鹦鹉的种类，在F段第3句中，…parrots, which can be either strongly right- or left-footed, or ambidextrous(鹦鹉有的左脚更灵便，有的右脚更灵便，或者双脚都灵便)。对照选项，E选项“动物偏侧越厉害，它的解决问题能力就越强”是对定位句的大意概括。
定位原文：G段最后一句“These have shown that a group of fish … that the predator is not expecting.”
解题思路：利用人名Vallortigara and Ghirlanda作为关键词，定位到G段，关于其研究发现，需要具体定位到G段段尾句，“这些都表明，如果多数鱼转向一个方向，而鱼群中很少比例的鱼会在捕食者没想到的方向逃生，一群鱼就可能躲过鲨鱼攻击且产生最少数量的伤亡”。对照选项，B选项“偏侧对一个种群是有利的，如果一些种群成员和大多数成员的偏侧方向不同”是对定位句的大意概括。
定位原文：D段第1句“Genetics plays a part in determining lateralisation, but environmental factors have an impact too.”
关键词：Lesley Rogers/2004/stronger lateralisation
定位原文：D段第2句“Rogers found that a chick's lateralisation depends on whether it is exposed to light before hatching from its egg- if it is kept in the dark during this period, neither hemisphere becomes dominant.”
定位原文：D段第3句“In 2004, Rogers used this observation to test the advantages of brain bias in chicks faced with the challenge of multitasking.”
关键词：Lesley Rogers/right eye/left eye
定位原文：D段倒数第2句话“As predicted, the birds incubated in the light looked for food mainly with their right eye, while using the other to check out the predator.”
定位原文： E段第1句“Similar results probably hold true for many other animals.”
关键词：opposing lateralisation to most of the population
定位原文：H段第1句“This imbalance of lateralisation within populations may also have advantages for individuals.”
H段倒数第2句“It has been suggested that when it comes to hand-to-hand fighting, left-handers may have the advantage over the right-handed majority.”
解题思路：题目的关键部分是opposing lateralisation to most of the population，在理解各段主旨的基础上，定位到H段第1句，“这种群体内的偏侧不平衡可能对个人有好处”。具体的一个好处，可以定位到H段倒数第2句，“有证据一直表明，当人们掰腕子的时候，左撇子要比右撇子的优势”。
关键词：knowledge of animal lateralisation
定位原文：B段段尾句“Similar evidence appeared in songbirds and rats around the same time, and since then, researchers have built up an impressive catalogue of animal lateralization.”
解题思路：题目的关键部分是knowledge of animal lateralisation，在理解各段主旨的基础上，定位到B段段尾句，“类似的证据在同一时期还出现在鸣禽和老鼠身上，自此研究人员就建立了一个可观的动物偏侧目录”。large amount of knowledge是对an impressive catelogue的同义改写。impressive在文中的意思是“可观的”。
关键词：contradict a previous belief
定位原文：B段第1句“For many years it was assumed that lateralisation was a uniquely human trait, but this notion rapidly fell apart as researchers started uncovering evidence of lateralisation in all sorts of animals.”
解题思路：题目的关键部分是contradict a previous belief，在理解各段主旨的基础上，定位到B段第1句，“多年来，脑偏侧都被认为是人类独有的，但当研究人员开始揭露各种动物脑偏侧的证据后，这个观念迅速土崩瓦解”。a previous belief指的就是ateralisation was a uniquely human trait这个观念。
定位原文：A段倒数第2句“This (lateralisation) does, on some occasions, let the animal down: such as when a toad fails to escape from a snake approaching from the right, just because its right eye is worse at spotting danger than its left.”
解题思路：题目的关键部分是disadvantage animals，在理解各段主旨的基础上，定位到A段倒数第2句，“这(脑偏侧)，在某些场合，让动物失望：比如当一个蟾蜍没能逃脱从右侧接近它的蛇时，只是因为比起左眼，它的右眼比较难发现危险”。这样的一个事实就说明了脑偏侧对动物不利的现象。disadvantage animals是对let the animal down的同义改写。
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