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Sci Rep. 2014 Jan 20;4:3774. doi: 10.1038/srep03774.

Genetic influences on receptive joint attention in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).

Author information

1] Neuroscience Institute and Language Research Center, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia 30302 [2] Division of Developmental and Cognitive Neuroscience, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Atlanta, Georgia 30329.
Center for Translational Social Neuroscience, Division of Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychiatric Disorders, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30329.
Department of Veterinary Sciences, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Bastrop, Texas 78602.


Despite their genetic similarity to humans, our understanding of the role of genes on cognitive traits in chimpanzees remains virtually unexplored. Here, we examined the relationship between genetic variation in the arginine vasopressin V1a receptor gene (AVPR1A) and social cognition in chimpanzees. Studies have shown that chimpanzees are polymorphic for a deletion in a sequence in the 5' flanking region of the AVPR1A, DupB, which contains the variable RS3 repetitive element, which has been associated with variation in social behavior in humans. Results revealed that performance on the social cognition task was significantly heritable. Furthermore, males with one DupB(+) allele performed significantly better and were more responsive to socio-communicative cues than males homozygous for the DupB- deletion. Performance on a non-social cognition task was not associated with the AVPR1A genotype. The collective findings show that AVPR1A polymorphisms are associated with individual differences in performance on a receptive joint attention task in chimpanzees.

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