Functional asymmetries, for example, the preferential involvement of 1 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 vocalizations recorded in different contexts: food anticipation (positive), isolation (negative), food frustration (negative), as well as 1 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-orienting 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, whereas 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 vocalization 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.
Luigi Baciadonna, Christian Nawroth, Elodie F Briefer, Alan G McElligott, Perceptual lateralization of vocal stimuli in goats, Current Zoology, Volume 65, Issue 1, February 2019, Pages 67–74, https://doi.org/10.1093/cz/zoy022