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Trends Cogn Sci. 2007 Feb;11(2):65-9. Epub 2006 Dec 22.

Questioning the social intelligence hypothesis.

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Department of Zoology, 203 Natural Science Building, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1115, USA.


The social intelligence hypothesis posits that complex cognition and enlarged "executive brains" evolved in response to challenges that are associated with social complexity. This hypothesis has been well supported, but some recent data are inconsistent with its predictions. It is becoming increasingly clear that multiple selective agents, and non-selective constraints, must have acted to shape cognitive abilities in humans and other animals. The task now is to develop a larger theoretical framework that takes into account both inter-specific differences and similarities in cognition. This new framework should facilitate consideration of how selection pressures that are associated with sociality interact with those that are imposed by non-social forms of environmental complexity, and how both types of functional demands interact with phylogenetic and developmental constraints.

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