Washington, Nov 12 : In a study on the sex life of pond snail, a researcher has found that just like humans, the snails have been genetically programmed to use the left or right handed side of its brain to perform different tasks, which at times can even hamper their mating.
Hayley Frend, who is a third-year undergraduate student in the School of Biology at The University of Nottingham, has established that just like humans, snails also tend to have brains that produce 'handed' behaviour.
It was recently shown that behavioural handedness is not just confined to vertebrates.
Focussing her research on the sex life and genetics of the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis, Hayley, under the supervision of lecturer, Dr Angus Davison has shown that a handedness of the pond snail in their mating behaviour is matched by an asymmetry in the brain which is pre-programmed by its mother's genes.
They observed that the pond snail nearly always has a right handed (dextral) to its shell but sometimes it is left handed (sinistral).
Since dextral snails circle anticlockwise and sinistral snails circle clockwise, there occurs an unusual consequence where the two 'mirror image' snails will circle in different directions and are frequently unable to mate.
"It never fails to surprise me how research on a mere pond snail can contribute to an understanding of the way our own brain works. Lots of new research, not just my lab, is showing that the effective functioning of the brain, whether they are human, fish or invertebrates, requires that the separate halves of the brain dedicate themselves to separate functions. If this specialisation has evolved multiple times, then it is clearly a very important one for animals," said Davison.
Hayley said: "It was an invaluable experience for me to work in the lab over the summer, but I never expected that my work would be published so rapidly. I am so excited!"
The study was published in the Royal Society Journal Biology Letters.