Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Social learning, culture and the ‘socio-cultural brain’ of human and non-human primates

Research output: Research - peer-reviewReview article

DOI

Open Access permissions

Open

Abstract

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.
Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-75
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Volume82
Early online date26 Dec 2016
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2017

    Research areas

  • Social learning, Imitation, Culture, Primates, Vervet monkeys, Chimpanzees, Social brain, Social intelligence, Cultural intelligence hypothesis, Mirror neurons, Autism

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. The interaction of social and perceivable causal factors in shaping ‘over-imitation’

    Burdett, E. R. R., McGuigan, N., Harrison, R. & Whiten, A. 24 Feb 2018 In : Cognitive Development. 47, p. 8-18 11 p.

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  2. Chimpanzees prioritise social information over pre-existing behaviours in a group context but not in dyads

    Watson, S., Lambeth, S. P., Schapiro, S. J. & Whiten, A. 24 Mar 2018 In : Animal Cognition. First Online, 12 p.

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  3. Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) display limited behavioural flexibility when faced with a changing foraging task requiring tool use

    Harrison, R. A. & Whiten, A. 19 Feb 2018 In : PeerJ. 6, 28 p., e4366

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  4. Field experiments with wild primates reveal no consistent dominance-based bias in social learning

    Botting, J., Whiten, A., Grampp, M. & van de Waal, E. Feb 2018 In : Animal Behaviour. 136, p. 1-12 12 p.

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  5. Innovation and social transmission in experimental micro-societies: exploring the scope of cumulative culture in young children

    McGuigan, N., Burdett, E., Burgess, V., Dean, L., Lucas, A., Vale, G. & Whiten, A. 5 Dec 2017 In : Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences. 372, 1735, 14 p., 20160425

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Related by journal

  1. Assessment of intradimensional/extradimensional attentional set-shifting in rats

    Tait, D. S., Bowman, E. M., Neuwirth, L. S. & Brown, V. J. 21 Feb 2018 In : Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 89, p. 72-84 13 p.

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewReview article

  2. Social manipulation in nonhuman primates: cognitive and motivational determinants

    Voelter, C. J., Rossano, F. & Call, J. Nov 2017 In : Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 82, p. 76-94

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewReview article

  3. Neuropsychological functioning and chronic methadone use: a systematic review and meta-analysis

    Baldacchino, A., Armanyous, M., Balfour, D. J. K., Humphris, G. & Matthews, K. Feb 2017 In : Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 73, p. 23-38

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewReview article

Related by journal

  1. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews (Journal)

    Ozakinci, G. (Reviewer)
    5 Nov 2012

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workPeer review of manuscripts

  2. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews (Journal)

    Bowman, E. M. (Member of editorial board)
    2007 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditor of research journal

  3. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews (Journal)

    Dominik Maria Endres (Editor)
    2007 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditor of research journal

  4. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews (Journal)

    Astell, A. J. (Editor)
    2005 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditor of research journal

  5. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews (Journal)

    Brown, V. J. (Editor)
    2002 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workEditor of research journal

ID: 248457993