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Emotions such as fear in vertebrates are often strongly lateralised, that is, a single cerebral hemisphere tends to be dominant when processing emotive stimuli. Boldness is a measure of an individual’s propensity to take risks and it has obvious connections with fear responses. Given the emotive nature of this well-studied personality trait, there is good reason to suspect that it is also likely to be expressed in a single hemisphere. Here, we examined the link between laterality and boldness in wild and captive-reared rainbowfish, Melanotaenia nigrans. We found that fish from the wild were bolder than those from captivity, which might be a reflection of the differences in the level of predation pressure experienced by the two populations. Secondly, we found that nonlateralised fish were bolder than strongly lateralised fish. In addition, differences in boldness scores between left- and right-biased fish were revealed. We suggest that variation in cerebral lateralisation contributes to the persistence of individual differences in boldness scores in animal populations.


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