Social interaction is thought to provide a selection pressure for human intelligence, yet little is known about its neurobiological basis and evolution throughout the primate lineage. Recent advances in neuroimaging have enabled whole brain investigation of brain structure, function, and connectivity in humans and non-human primates (NHPs), leading to a nascent field of comparative connectomics. However, linking social behavior to brain organization across the primates remains challenging. Here, we review the current understanding of the macroscale neural mechanisms of social behaviors from the viewpoint of system neuroscience. We first demonstrate an association between the number of cortical neurons and the size of social groups across primates, suggesting a link between neural information-processing capacity and social capabilities. Moreover, by capitalizing on recent advances in species-harmonized functional MRI, we demonstrate that portions of the mirror neuron system and default-mode networks, which are thought to be important for representation of the other's actions and sense of self, respectively, exhibit similarities in functional organization in macaque monkeys and humans, suggesting possible homologies. With respect to these two networks, we describe recent developments in the neurobiology of social perception, joint attention, personality and social complexity. Together, the Human Connectome Project (HCP)-style comparative neuroimaging, hyperscanning, behavioral, and other multi-modal investigations are expected to yield important insights into the evolutionary foundations of human social behavior.
- Comparative connectomics
- Social behavior