News & AnalysisNeuroscience

The Brain's Social Network

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Science  04 Nov 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6056, pp. 578-579
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6056.578

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On page 697 of this week's issue of Science, neuroscientists report that housing macaques in larger groups increased the amount of gray matter in several parts of the brain involved in social cognition. Previous research has implicated these regions in a variety of tasks, from interpreting facial expressions and gestures to predicting what other individuals intend to do. The researchers also found correlations between gray matter volume and a monkey's dominance rank within its group, suggesting that beefing up neural circuitry in certain areas somehow promotes or enables social success. The work may help to resolve a quandary raised by a handful of recent studies that have correlated variations in human brain anatomy with social network size, some experts say.