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Left hemispheric dominance of vestibular processing indicates lateralization of cortical functions in rats

Brain Struct Funct. 2013 Aug 25. [Epub ahead of print]

Authors/Editors: Best C, Lange E, Buchholz HG, Schreckenberger M, Reuss S, Dieterich M.
Publication Date: 2013



Lateralization of cortical functions such as speech dominance, handedness and processing of vestibular information are present not only in humans but also in ontogenetic older species, e.g. rats. In human functional imaging studies, the processing of vestibular information was found to be correlated with the hemispherical dominance as determined by the handedness. It is located mainly within the right hemisphere in right handers and within the left hemisphere in left handers. Since dominance of vestibular processing is unknown in animals, our aim was to study the lateralization of cortical processing in a functional imaging study applying small-animal positron emission tomography (microPET) and galvanic vestibular stimulation in an in vivo rat model. The cortical and subcortical network processing vestibular information could be demonstrated and correlated with data from other animal studies. By calculating a lateralization index as well as flipped region of interest analyses, we found that the vestibular processing in rats follows a strong left hemispheric dominance independent from the ‘‘handedness’’ of the animals. These findings support the idea of an early hemispheric specialization of vestibular cortical functions in ontogenetic older species.

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