Sociality in ground squirrels

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) plays a central role in modulating social behaviour in primates and rodents. The underlying premise of the Social Brain Hypothesis is that the need to process social information drives the expansion of the brain and cortex, suggesting that the PFC itself should be disproportionately enlarged. Human imaging studies support a correlation between social network size and volume of some PFC regions, but a direct test of whether PFC anatomy varies with sociality across species is entirely lacking. In collaboration with Bryan Kolb, we are examining PFC anatomy within and across ground squirrel species to determine if the evolution of sociality is, in fact, correlated with anatomical changes in the PFC.