Cognitive consequences of cooperative breeding? A critical appraisal
Journal of Zoology
Wiley for Zoological Society of London
The social intelligence hypothesis, which posits that the challenges of life in complex social environments drive cognitive evolution, enjoys widespread theoretical and empirical support. Recent years have seen the emergence of a novel variant of this hypothesis, suggesting that cooperative breeding is associated with the elaboration of socio-cognitive abilities. With this cooperative breeding hypothesis (CBH) rapidly gaining currency, the time is ripe for a critical appraisal. Proponents of the CBH argue that cooperative breeding leads to increased cognitive performance, calling upon cognitive and motivational processes including spontaneous prosocial tendencies, attending to and learning from conspecifics, teaching and coordinating activities. We review the literature on the natural history and cognitive abilities of cooperative breeders and other social animals and conclude that there is no compelling evidence that these processes are either unique to cooperative breeders or particularly cognitively demanding. Thus, there is currently no reason to suppose that cooperative breeding has major cognitive consequences.
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
© 2014 The Zoological Society of London. This is the accepted version of the following article: Thornton, A. and McAuliffe, K. (2015), Cognitive consequences of cooperative breeding? A critical appraisal. Journal of Zoology, 295: 12–22, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jzo.12198
Vol. 295 (1), pp. 12 - 22