A new dimension to our deep evolutionary connection with rhesus macaques – “old world” monkeys – was revealed after researchers identified a region of the brain exclusively used to deconstruct social interactions.
Using whole-brain functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), two researchers from the Rockefeller University in New York showed the monkeys videos of other monkeys interacting with each other and with objects.
They found neural networks in the part of the brain associated with visual processing were highly active when the monkeys watched videos of monkey–monkey interactions, such as grooming, playing and fighting. The researchers also observed another neural network that specifically activated when watching these videos.
These brain circuitry patterns resemble the human brain systems associated with social connections, showing that these primates have a high level of social cognition.
In the video above, we can see the directions of one monkey’s gaze, indicated by a red dot.
Their findings were published in the journal AAAS.
Originally published by Cosmos as Monkeys can analyse social interactions
Anthea Batsakis is a freelance journalist in Melbourne, Australia.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.