Attentional state and brain processes: state-dependent lateralization of EEG profiles in horses

Abstract : Lateralization of brain functions has been suggested to provide individuals with advantages, such as an increase of neural efficiency. The right hemisphere is likely to be specialized for processing attention for details and the left hemisphere for categorization of stimuli. Thus attentional processes actually may underlie lateralization. In the present study, we hypothesized that the attentional state of horses could be reflected in the lateralization of brain responses. We used i) a recently developed attention test to measure horses' visual attentional responses towards a standardized stimulus and ii) a recently developed portable EEG telemetric tool to measure brain responses. A particular emphasis was given to the types of waves (EEG power profile) and their side of production when horses were either attentive towards a visual stimulus or quiet standing. The results confirmed that a higher attentional state is associated with a higher proportion of gamma waves. There was moreover an interaction between the attentional state, the hemisphere and the EEG profile: attention towards the visual stimulus was associated with a significant increase of gamma wave proportion in the right hemisphere while "inattention" was associated with more alpha and beta waves in the left hemisphere. These first results are highly promising and contribute to the large debate on functional lateralization.
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Céline Rochais, Mélissa Sébilleau, Mathilde Ménoret, Martial Oger, Séverine Henry, et al.. Attentional state and brain processes: state-dependent lateralization of EEG profiles in horses. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2018, 8 (1), pp.10153. ⟨10.1038/s41598-018-28334-9⟩. ⟨hal-01835231⟩

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