About this item:

1,095 Views | 0 Downloads

Author Notes:

Address correspondence to Erin E. Hecht, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, 954 Gatewood Rd., Atlanta, GA 30329, USA. Email: ehecht@emory.edu.

We would like to express appreciation for the expert assistance of the Yerkes Imaging Center, Biomedical Imaging Technology Center, and the Yerkes animal care and veterinary staff

Conflict of Interest: None declared.


Research Funding:

National Institutes of Health (RR-00165 to Yerkes National Primate Research Center; 5P01 AG026423-03 to T.M.P., J.K.R., and L.A.P.; F31MH086179-01 to E.E.H.; RO1 MH068791 to L.A.P.; MH58922, HD055255 and MH65046 to M.M.S.; and R01 MH084068-01A1 to J.K.R.)

James S. McDonnell Foundation (21002093 to T.M.P.)

Wenner-Gren Foundation (Dissertation Fieldwork Grant to EEH)

Emory University Research Committee

Center for Behavioral Neuroscience


  • diffusion tensor imaging
  • evolution
  • imitation
  • mirror system
  • social learning

Process Versus Product in Social Learning: Comparative Diffusion Tensor Imaging of Neural Systems for Action Execution-Observation Matching in Macaques, Chimpanzees, and Humans


Journal Title:

Cerebral Cortex


Volume 23, Number 5


, Pages 1014-1024

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Social learning varies among primate species. Macaques only copy the product of observed actions, or emulate, while humans and chimpanzees also copy the process, or imitate. In humans, imitation is linked to the mirror system. Here we compare mirror system connectivity across these species using diffusion tensor imaging. In macaques and chimpanzees, the preponderance of this circuitry consists of frontal–temporal connections via the extreme/external capsules. In contrast, humans have more substantial temporal–parietal and frontal–parietal connections via the middle/inferior longitudinal fasciculi and the third branch of the superior longitudinal fasciculus. In chimpanzees and humans, but not in macaques, this circuitry includes connections with inferior temporal cortex. In humans alone, connections with superior parietal cortex were also detected. We suggest a model linking species differences in mirror system connectivity and responsivity with species differences in behavior, including adaptations for imitation and social learning of tool use.

Copyright information:

© The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com

Export to EndNote