Evolution of Brain Connectivity

This project seeks to further our understanding of the brains of chimpanzees and other non-human primates, especially the communication, tool use and social cognition pathways. Using the comparative approach and our understanding of chimpanzee and monkey behavior, results will assist our understanding of similar structures and functions of the human brain, where until now, relatively little is known. Knowing similarities and differences in chimpanzee and human skills, comparisons between the chimpanzee and human brains will help us better understand the human brain. We aim particularly to examine parts of the brain that reflect differences in chimpanzee behavior with monkeys and chimpanzee behaviour with humans. Specifically, in comparison to most animals, chimpanzees have complex communication, social skills and too using abilities. Human skills, however, in all these dimensions are more sophisticated than those of chimpanzees. Parts of the brain have been described as functioning to support language (Broca’s area, Wernike’s area and white matter pathways such as the dorsal route), tool use (the parietal lobe) and social skills (the tempero-parietal lobe). We can compare these areas in chimpanzee, human and monkey brains to determine if structure in these areas fits expected extent usage of these areas per species.

Logo EBC.jpg
Coula nut cracking with stone hammer (c) Liran Samuni, tai Chimpanzee project.jpg

Selected Publications

Grawunder, S., Uomini, N., Samuni, L., Bortolato, T., Girard-Buttoz, C., Wittig, R. M., & Crockford, C. (2022).

Chimpanzee vowel-like sounds and voice quality suggest formant space expansion through the hominoid lineage.

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 377(1841): 20200455.

Kopp, K. S., Ebel, S. J., Wittig, R. M., Haun, D. B. M., & Crockford, C. (2021).

Small mirrors do the trick: A simple, but effective method to study mirror self-recognition in chimpanzees.

Animal Behavior and Cognition, 8(3), 391-404.

Eichner, C., Paquette, M., Mildner, T., Schlumm, T., Pleh, K., Crockford, C., Wittig, R. M., Möller, H. E., Friederici, A. D., & Anwender, A. (2020).

lncreased sensitivity and signal-to-noise ratio in diffusion-weighted MRI using multi-echo acquisitions.

NeuroImage, 221: 117172.