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Human Nature and Evolution

Chimpanzees are our closest living relatives, sharing 96 percent of our DNA. But, what makes us human? Studying our nonhuman primate relatives sheds light on the evolution of the human brain, human nature and human society.

Researchers in the Yerkes Division of Developmental and Cognitive Neuroscience examine genetic, biological and environmental factors that regulate social behavior and cognition, and they study how social experience affects physiological processes and brain function. Their studies focus on a variety of topics based on the social structure of primate society, including affiliation, aggression, communication, reproduction, maternal behavior, growth and learning development.