Shrunken Social Brains? A Minimal Model of the Role of Social Interaction in Neural Complexity

Complexity Digest

Georgina Montserrat Reséndiz-Benhumea, Ekaterina Sangati, Federico Sangati, Soheil Keshmiri and Tom Froese

The social brain hypothesis proposes that enlarged brains have evolved in response to the increasing cognitive demands that complex social life in larger groups places on primates and other mammals. However, this reasoning can be challenged by evidence that brain size has decreased in the evolutionary transitions from solitary to social larger groups in the case of Neolithic humans and some eusocial insects. Different hypotheses can be identified in the literature to explain this reduction in brain size. We evaluate some of them from the perspective of recent approaches to cognitive science, which support the idea that the basis of cognition can span over brain, body, and environment. Here we show through a minimal cognitive model using an evolutionary robotics methodology that the neural complexity, in terms of neural entropy and degrees of freedom of neural activity, of…

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