Evolution of the social brain
The evolutionary history of the human social brain is typically studied by comparative research with primates. The human brain evolved by adapting to changes in their complex social niche (Dunbar, 2009) and to study the role of their social environment I am looking for convergent (i.e., parallel) evolution in a completely different lineage. Dogs (Canis familiaris) are not closely related to humans, but they share a close bond and a similar social and ecological environment with humans for thousands of years. Dogs also show remarkable visual communicative skills with both humans and dogs, sometimes even outperforming human’s closestrelatives, the chimpanzees. Thus, with my research I want to learn more about the neural bases of these skills and investigate potential similarities and differences between humans and dogs in terms of their brain functions but also organization to learn more about the foundations of social cognition.