Perceptual lateralisation of vocal stimuli in goats


Functional asymmetries, e.g. the preferential involvement of one brain hemisphere to process stimuli, may increase brain efficiency and the capacity to carry out tasks simultaneously. We investigated which hemisphere was primarily involved in processing acoustic stimuli in goats using a head-orienting paradigm. Three playbacks using goat vocalisations recorded in different contexts: food anticipation (positive), isolation (negative), food frustration (negative), as well as one playback involving dog barks (negative) were presented on the left and right sides of the test subjects simultaneously. The head-orienting response (left or right) and latency to resume feeding were recorded. The direction of the head-orientating response did not differ between the various playbacks. However, when the head-orienting response was tested against chance level, goats showed a right bias regardless of the stimuli presented. Goats responded more to dog barks than to food frustration calls, while responses to food anticipation and isolation calls were intermediate. In addition, the latency to resume feeding, an indicator of fear reaction, was not affected by the kind of vocalisation presented. These results provide evidence for asymmetries in goat vocal perception of emotional-linked conspecific and heterospecific calls. They also suggest involvement of the left brain hemisphere for processing acoustic stimuli, which might have been perceived as familiar and non-threatening.


Baciadonna, L., Nawroth, C., Briefer, E. F., McElligott, A. G. 2019. Perceptual lateralisation of vocal stimuli in goats. Current Zoology. 65. 67-74.

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