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

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. ‘Over-imitation’: a review and appraisal of a decade of research

    Hoehl, S., Keupp, S., Schleihauf, H., McGuigan, N., Buttelmann, D. & Whiten, A. 3 Jan 2019 In : Developmental Review. 51, p. 90-108

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  2. Conformity and over-imitation: an integrative review of variant forms of hyper-reliance on social learning

    Whiten, A. 14 Jan 2019 Advances in the Study of Behavior. Elsevier, (Advances in the Study of Behavior)

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  3. Payoff- and sex-biased social learning interact in a wild primate population

    Bono, A. E. J., Whiten, A., van Schaik, C., Krützen, M., Eichenberger, F., Schnider, A. & van de Waal, E. 10 Sep 2018 In : Current Biology. 28, 17, p. 2800-2805.e4

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Behavioral conservatism is linked to complexity of behavior in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): implications for cognition and cumulative culture

    Davis, S. J., Schapiro, S. J., Lambeth, S. P., Wood, L. A. & Whiten, A. 19 Jul 2018 In : Journal of Comparative Psychology. Advance Online

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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)

    Dominik Maria Endres (Editor)
    2007 → …

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

  3. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews (Journal)

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

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

  4. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews (Journal)

    Arlene Jean Astell (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

Related by journal

  1. Chronic tobacco smoking and neuropsychological impairments: a systematic review and meta-analysis

    Conti, A. A., McLean, L., Tolomeo, S., Steele, D. & Baldacchino, A. M. Jan 2019 In : Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 96, p. 143-154 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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

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

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview 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: Contribution to journalReview article

ID: 248457993