Has primate brain evolution been driven by female sociality and male competition?

Project leader

Funding source

Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2009
End date: 31/12/2011
Funding: 1821000 SEK


I propose to investigate if sex and species differences in the brain can be tied to sex differences in behaviour. Previous research has revealed sociality as an important factor for mammal brain evolution, but little has been done investigating male and female aspects of sociality separately. Using phylogenetic comparative methods, the proposed project will mainly focus on the degree of male physical competition and the extent of female social relationships as possible causal agents. Specifically, I intend to (1) collate and publish a sex-specific data base of measurements of primate brain components, (2) analyze if the degree of female sociality in primates correlates with dimorphism in relative neocortex size, (3) investigate if the degree of sexual selection in different primate species correlates with sexual dimorphism in brain structures relating to sensory/motor functions and functions relating to aggression, (4) examine if the degree of sexual selection in different mammal species correlates with sexual dimorphism and species differences in relative brain size, and, (5) compare sexual brain dimorphism in primates with brain dimorphism in humans. Pilot studies indicate that sex is an important, but neglected, factor in mammal brain evolution.

Last updated on 2017-31-03 at 12:58