Division of Psychobiology
Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University
I use chimpanzees as a model to understand the neurobiological correlates of social communication, including gestural and vocal signaling, joint attention and theory of mind. In addition to MRI and PET techniques to analyze structural and functional correlates of social communication and cognition, I have been examining the potential effects of polymorphisms in the chimpanzee vasopressin receptor gene on social communicative behavior. This work has important implications for human social behavior and we believe that chimpanzees may provide an innovative animal model to investigate the potential for pharmacological approaches to enhance social cognition. This work may directly impact future drug therapies for disorders of the social brain.
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