Thursday, August 7, 2014

It's Officially Conference Season: #ABS2014

I'll be presenting my hamadryas baboon handedness poster again next week at Animal Behavior Society (ABS) in Princeton University, NJ [Abstract below]. This a pilot study I did at The Prospect Park Zoo last year, prior to the birth of the two new male baboons. Don't forget to catch my poster on Tuesday, August 12th between 7 PM to 9 PM at Frist Gallery (Poster Session B). 

I have entered the "Founder's Poster" competition and will be presenting a brief 1 minute (2 slides) presentation on Sunday following immediately after the Plenary talk. The point of this brief presentation is to persuade you, my reader and conference goer, to come check out my poster. So ... would you come check out my poster, pretty please. I will upload those slides here after I have presented on Sunday.

As with ISBE 2014, I will also be tweeting during ABS 2014 using the hash tag #ABS2014


Vagell, R. Talk To The Hand: Hamadryas Baboon (Papio hamadryas) Hand Preference In Gestural Communication.

Gestural communication is thought to be a precursor to the origin of human language. Since human language is lateralized between brain hemispheres, this study seeks to elucidate whether there is also a lateralization in nonhuman primate gestural communication. One way to investigate brain asymmetry is by observing species-specific behaviors for lateralized hand preference. In this preliminary study, hamadryas baboons (Papio hamadryas) were observed at Prospect Park Zoo in Brooklyn, New York. Two types of gestural communication were examined to determine if they exhibit hand preference: hand slapping and muzzle wiping. An all occurrence sampling was completed in 3 weeks totaling 24 hours of observation and data collection. From these data, we calculated a Handedness Index (HI) and tested individuals for right or left hand preference using chi-squared tests. This study revealed that 42.9% of individuals exhibit a right hand preference for hand slapping (X2 (1, N = 5) = 17.04, p < 0.001). 71.4% of individuals exhibit a right hand preference for muzzle wiping (X2 (1, N = 7) = 10.50, p < 0.05). These results are consistent with previous studies on olive baboons (Papio anubis) (Vauclair et al., 2005; Meguerditchian & Vauclair, 2006; Meguerditchian & Vauclair, 2009). Results from this preliminary study can contribute to the study of nonhuman primate handedness, and the evolution of language.

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