Social determinants of health and survival in humans and other animals

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Science  22 May 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6493, eaax9553
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax9553

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  • RE: evolutionary logic of social gradients

    This review states that "[comparative] studies have high potential to shed light on the pathways that connect social experience to life course outcomes as well as the evolutionary logic that accounts for these effects ... Comparative studies can therefore also contribute by highlighting the evolutionary logic that explains social gradients ... [the available evidence] suggest a shared biology underlying the influence of social gradients and a coherent evolutionary logic for when these gradients tend to be shallower versus steeper—arguments that have been made in various forms over the years" (Synder-Mackler, et al., 2020).

    Interestingly, Synder-Mackler, et al. refers to Dunbar and Schultz (2007) whose work on the social brain hypothesis might contribute to unveiling the evolutionary logic of social gradients.

    According to Dunbar & Schultz (2007), "As a result [of little effort to develop an explanatory framework that integrates the many social, ecological, and life-history correlates of brain size that have been identified], constraint-type explanations (e.g., correlations with life history) have continued to be emphasized as though they were alternative explanations for evolutionary function (pp. 1344-1345).

    Further, "Species differences in a handful of very small neuronal components do not explain the apparent need for massive species differences in total brain size. Most of these studies fall into the same trap as the...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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