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Lateralized motor behaviour in the righting responses of the cane toad (Rhinella marina)
Laterality  (IF1.816),  Pub Date : 2021-09-06, DOI: 10.1080/1357650x.2021.1968890


This paper reports a series of tests for fore- and hind-limb preferences used by cane toads, Rhinella marina, to assist returning to the righted position after being overturned. We confirm the strong and significant right-handedness reported in this species, which under certain conditions exceeded 90% right-hand preference at the group level. Toads were tested under a variety of conditions including horizontal and inclined surfaces, with and without the opportunity for the forelimbs to grasp a support, in order to assess the effects of different vestibular and proprioceptive input on the strength and direction of fore- and hind-limb preferences. A range of behavioural strategies indicated learning effects; however, the strength or direction of limb preferences did not increase significantly with experience, even in toads retested multiple times. Comparisons with the mammalian condition for limb preferences are discussed with relevance to practice effects and established limb preferences, and to effects associated with arousal or stress. In contrast to the expectation that handedness in toads represents intentional or voluntary preferences, the presence of lateralized central pattern generators in the toads is postulated to explain the different forms of lateralization revealed by our tests.