The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)


Impact of Tool Use on brain development of non-human primates

AUDREY R. BRITTINGHAM1, DELANIE R. HURST1, P. THOMAS SCHOENEMANN1, BRIAN AVANTS2 and JAMES C. GEE2.

1Anthropology, Indiana University Bloomington, 2Radiology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Saturday 9:15-9:30, Ballroom C Add to calendar

Correlations between brain evolution and behavior in non-human primates may offer a glimpse into the evolutional forces pertaining to Hominin brain evolution. To the extent that endocranial size and shape reflects features of the underlying brain, associations between behavioral variables and endocranial morphology might give clues to the behavior of fossil species. Tool-use is one behavioral variable that has been suggested as a possible driving factor in human evolution. Research on how tool-use might influence site-specific endocranial morphology has yet to be conducted. Open Research Scan Archive CT scans fromtwelve non-human primate species were used to assess localized correlations between endocranial morphology and incidence of tool use reported in the literature. Morphology was assessed using non-rigid deformation methods, in which endocasts were morphed into one common atlas (Pan troglodytes), rendering voxel-based differences across the entire endocranial surface. These voxel differences were then correlated with instances of tool use. Preliminary results show areas of higher correlation in the prefrontal cortex – areas which are associated with language, social interactions and behavioral planning. An additional area of higher association included the cerebellum, possibly indicating increased ability in muscle movement, locomotion and timing. These data suggest that endocranial morphology might be useful for making inferences about hominin tool-use.

Thanks to NSF for funding ORSA.

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