ABS 2022
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Lack of lateralization during search patterns in wild, food-caching chickadees
Lauren M. Benedict1, Virginia K. Heinen1, Benjamin R. Sonnenberg1, Angela M. Pitera1, Eli S. Bridge2, Vladimir V. Pravosudov1. 1University of Nevada Reno, Reno, Nevada, United States; 2University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Biological Survey, Norman, Oklahoma, United States

Structural and functional asymmetries in the brain and nervous system, broadly defined as lateralization, have been widely documented across the animal kingdom. Lateralization can be detected at a behavioral level through left-right preferences, such as which direction to turn around a barrier, which eye to use to view different types of stimuli or which hand, paw or foot to use to manipulate objects. At a cognitive level, these asymmetries may allow for improved parallel processing of information; indeed, individual variation in the strength of lateralization has been linked to variation in cognitive performance. However, less is known about how lateralization may be involved in search patterns within a foraging context. Here, we took advantage of a testing paradigm in which wild mountain chickadees (Poecile gambeli) learn the spatial location of one food source out of 8 possible feeder locations. In our study, we tested whether the birds (A) have a directional bias (left or right) when moving between feeders to search for a rewarding feeder and (B) whether this possible laterality may affect individual cognitive performance on the spatial learning and memory task.