Social learning, culture and the ‘socio-cultural brain’ of human and non-human primates
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Noting important recent discoveries, we review primate social learning, traditions and culture, together with associated findings about primate brains. We survey our current knowledge of primate cultures in the wild, and complementary experimental diffusion studies testing species’ capacity to sustain traditions. We relate this work to theories that seek to explain the enlarged brain size of primates as specializations for social intelligence, that have most recently extended to learning from others and the cultural transmission this permits. We discuss alternative theories and review a variety of recent findings that support cultural intelligence hypotheses for primate encephalization. At a more fine-grained neuroscientific level we focus on the underlying processes of social learning, especially emulation and imitation. Here, our own and others’ recent research has established capacities for bodily imitation in both monkeys and apes, results that are consistent with a role for the mirror neuron system in social learning. We review important convergences between behavioural findings and recent non-invasive neuroscientific studies.
Whiten , A & van de Waal , E 2017 , ' Social learning, culture and the ‘socio-cultural brain’ of human and non-human primates ' Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews , vol 82 , pp. 58-75 . DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.12.018
Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This work has been made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the author created, accepted version manuscript following peer review and may differ slightly from the final published version. The final published version of this work is available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.12.018
AW was supported during the writing of this review by the John Templeton Foundation (grant number ID40128). EvdW was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant number P300P3-151187) and Society in Science - Branco Weiss Fellowship.
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