Dr Rogier B Mars, University of Oxford
Connectivity of the social brain in human and non-human primates
For a social species like our own, evolutionary success necessitates the ability to navigate a world full of conspecifics. Consequently, humans are extremely sensitive to information about others’ emotional states or intentions as provided by cues such as facial expression or body movement. It has been argued that the size and complexity of the human brain is a reflection of the difficulty in navigating our social environment. However, the relationship between areas in the human brain concerned with processing social information and similar areas in the non-human primate brain remains largely unexplored. A number of recent studies have searched for areas with similar response characteristics across species, but these studies have been largely hampered by the difficulty of engaging non-human primates in social tasks comparable to those of the human.