A study of free-range rhesus monkeys found that people with more social partners have larger brain regions involved in social decision-making and empathy.
April 13, 2022
Studies have shown that adult rhesus monkeys with larger social circles have expanded brain areas associated with social decision making and connectivity.
Primates, including rhesus monkeys and people, live in large and complex social networks. The cognitive demands of navigating these networks are thought to have contributed to the relatively large brain size of primates, but little is known about their effects on internal brain structure.
Camille testard The University of Pennsylvania and her colleagues studied the relationship between the number of social partners in 103 rhesus monkeys and the structure of the brain (“Rhesus monkey) I live in Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico.
Monkeys aged 1 month to 25 years were fed and watered, but otherwise left it to their device for free interaction.
By observing the number of other monkeys that have been groomed or groomed during the three months, researchers have determined the number of social partners that each adult monkey (including friends and family) had. I counted. Some monkeys have dozens of social partners, while others have nothing.
When the monkeys died, researchers removed their brains, scanned them using MRI, and measured the volume of various brain structures.
Scans showed that the two brain regions involved in social behavior were larger in adults with more social partners: the superior temporal sulcus and the ventral-granular island.
The superior temporal sulcus has previously been shown to be involved in social decision making, including deciding who to cooperate with or compete with.
The ventral-granular outer island is thought to be involved in binding and empathy. For example, in one study that electrically stimulated this area of monkeys Made them make a friendly lip-sounding gesture..
No difference in brain structure was seen in infants with high social contact, suggesting that these changes occur as monkeys grow older.
There is also evidence that some people change the structure of their brains as they make more friends. For example, one study found that the number of Facebook friends seemed to correlate with real friends. Predicted gray matter density of brain regions associated with social behavior..
“How many friends you have, and who these friends are, requires sophisticated social cognition to determine and maintain the rest of your social landscape,” Testard said. say.
Social connections are increasingly recognized as an important driver of primate biological success. For example, a male chimpanzee with a larger network of friends Give birth to more offspringAdolescents with better social integration Decreased blood pressure, level of inflammation, waist circumference, obesity index..
“There is a huge amount of literature on the importance of primate social relationships, which is a very active field of study,” says Testard.
Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abl5794
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