Social connections predict brain structure in a multidimensional free-ranging primate society.
Testard C., Brent LJN., Andersson J., Chiou KL., Negron-Del Valle JE., DeCasien AR., Acevedo-Ithier A., Stock MK., Antón SC., Gonzalez O., Walker CS., Foxley S., Compo NR., Bauman S., Ruiz-Lambides AV., Martinez MI., Skene JHP., Horvath JE., Unit CBR., Higham JP., Miller KL., Snyder-Mackler N., Montague MJ., Platt ML., Sallet J.
Reproduction and survival in most primate species reflects management of both competitive and cooperative relationships. Here, we investigated the links between neuroanatomy and sociality in free-ranging rhesus macaques. In adults, the number of social partners predicted the volume of the mid-superior temporal sulcus and ventral-dysgranular insula, implicated in social decision-making and empathy, respectively. We found no link between brain structure and other key social variables such as social status or indirect connectedness in adults, nor between maternal social networks or status and dependent infant brain structure. Our findings demonstrate that the size of specific brain structures varies with the number of direct affiliative social connections and suggest that this relationship may arise during development. These results reinforce proposed links between social network size, biological success, and the expansion of specific brain circuits.