Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

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

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

DOI

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
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
VolumeIn press
Early online date26 Dec 2016
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 26 Dec 2016

    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. A second inheritance system: the extension of biology through culture

    Whiten, A. 6 Oct 2017 In : Interface Focus. 7, 5, 16 p., 20160142

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Acquisition of a socially learned tool use sequence in chimpanzees: implications for cumulative culture

    Vale, G. L., Davis, S. J., Lambeth, S. P., Schapiro, S. J. & Whiten, A. Sep 2017 In : Evolution and Human Behavior. 38, 5, p. 635-644 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Resilience of experimentally-seeded dietary traditions in wild vervets: evidence from group fissions

    van de Waal, E., van Schaik, C. P. & Whiten, A. 1 Aug 2017 In : American Journal of Primatology. Early View

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Adaptive cultural transmission biases in children and nonhuman primates

    Price, E. E., Wood, L. A. & Whiten, A. Aug 2017 In : Infant Behavior and Development. 48, Part A, p. 45-53 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  5. The extension of biology through culture

    Whiten, A., Ayala, F., Feldman, M. W. & Laland, K. N. 24 Jul 2017 In : Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Early Edition, 7 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. 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: Contribution to journalReview article

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

    Voelter, C. J., Rossano, F. & Call, J. 14 Sep 2016 In : Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. In press

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview 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