Social Network Size Affects Neural Circuits in Macaques, Science
Abstract: It has been suggested that variation in brain structure correlates with the sizes of individuals’ social networks. Whether variation in social network size causes variation in brain structure, however, is unknown. To address this question, we neuroimaged 23 monkeys that had been living in social groups set to different sizes. Subject comparison revealed that living in larger groups caused increases in gray matter in mid-superior temporal sulcus and rostral prefrontal cortex and increased coupling of activity in frontal and temporal cortex. Social network size, therefore, contributes to changes both in brain structure and function. The changes have potential implications for an animal’s success in a social context; gray matter differences in similar areas were also correlated with each animal’s dominance within its social network.
- Source: Social Network Size Affects Neural Circuits in Macaques, J. Sallet, DOI: 10.1126/science.1210027, Science Vol. 334 no. 6056 pp. 697-700, 2011/11/4
Evolutionary biology: The path to sociality, Nature
Excerpt: (…) some hints about the sequence of events that led to the evolution of human social systems are emerging. The latest evidence comes from Shultz et al.1, who (…) trace the evolution of complex sociality within the order Primates. Their data provide a strong foundation for modelling the origins of hominid mating systems by constraining the range of likely trajectories of social change.
- Source: Evolutionary biology: The path to sociality, Joan B. Silk, DOI: 10.1038/479182a, Nature 479, 182�"183, 2011/11/9
Stepwise evolution of stable sociality in primates, Nature
Excerpt: (…) This supports suggestions that social living may arise because of increased predation risk associated with diurnal activity. Sociality based on loose aggregation is followed by a second shift to stable or bonded groups. This structuring facilitates the evolution of cooperative behaviours5 and may provide the scaffold for other distinctive anthropoid traits including coalition formation, cooperative resource defence and large brains.
- Source: Stepwise evolution of stable sociality in primates, Susanne Shultz, Christopher Opie & Quentin D. Atkinson, DOI: 10.1038/nature10601, Nature 479, 219�"222, 2011/11/9
Martin Hanczyc: The line between life and not-life, TED.com
About this talk: In his lab, Martin Hanczyc makes "protocells," experimental blobs of chemicals that behave like living cells. His work demonstrates how life might have first occurred on Earth ... and perhaps elsewhere too.
- Source: Martin Hanczyc: The line between life and not-life, TED.com, 2011/11
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Daniel Wolpert: The real reason for brains, TED.com
About this talk: Neuroscientist Daniel Wolpert starts from a surprising premise: the brain evolved, not to think or feel, but to control movement. In this entertaining, data-rich talk he gives us a glimpse into how the brain creates the grace and agility of human motion.
- Source: Daniel Wolpert: The real reason for brains, TED.com, 2011/11
Mathematics: Alice in time, Nature
Excerpt: Time haunts both Alice books. Lewis Carroll, author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1871), was also Charles Dodgson, mathematician and logician, and so was aware of the disturbing arguments, new in the mid-nineteenth century, that suggested our view of the geometry of space and time was not universal.
As Dodgson, he was a devout Euclidean, believing that planes are flat and parallel lines never meet. As Lewis Carroll, he stepped across those boundaries.
- Source: Mathematics: Alice in time, Gillian Beer, DOI: 10.1038/479038a, Nature 479, 38�"39, 2011/11/2