About this Research Topic
Animal groups often display striking collective organization, which relies on social interactions. These interactions require neural substrates supporting the exchange of information among individuals and the processing of this information. The social brain hypothesis, suggested from neuroanatomical findings in primates, posits that increasing levels of sociality involve a higher investment in neural tissue to cope with social information. However, distributed cognition and swarm intelligence might alleviate the cognitive load on the individuals, and potentially reduce their neural requirements. Research on social insects, which are an exemplar of collective action, has so far produced mixed results. Individual cognition and collective action have received a lot of attention, and much progress has been done in each of those fields; however, much less is understood about how the two interact.
Our goal is to aggregate theoretical and experimental research exploring the links between the complexity of individual and collective behaviors. Experimental research testing the social brain hypothesis showed little support for a general explanation across the animal kingdom. The relationship between the cognitive abilities of animals and their social interactions are much more complex than previously thought, and tackling this problem requires a better knowledge of the fundamental mechanisms underpinning socio-cognitive tasks. What is the information used by the animals during social interactions? How much information is necessary? How many neurons and which neural circuits are required for processing this information? What neural connections are important? Do these social interactions involve memory formation? How do the cognitive requirements and neural circuits vary between group members?
Answering these questions will bring considerable insights into the cognitive complexity involved for social and collective behaviors. It will also advance our understanding of inter-individual cognitive variability and division of labor in most socially advanced species. This Research Topic will be a unique forum for researchers from different fields (neurogenetics, neuro-ethology, evolutionary ecology, cognitive ecology, collective animal behavior, computational modeling) working on different species to present up to date advances on the physiological correlates of social behavior and delineate future directions for the field of social neuroethology.
We welcome contributions on any aspect of the cognitive requirements of social and collective behaviors, from molecular, cellular, and circuit level approaches to how individuals contribute to group action at the behavioral level. Specific areas of interest include, but are not limited to, studies on the neural underpinnings of division of labor, neuromodulation or neurogenetics of social behaviors, the neural circuits and neuroanatomical basis of group action, and how social signals affect learning and behavior. We encourage submissions that present original research and review evidence or compare data from multiple species. We hope to include work from different disciplines and on a wide range of species, including model, non-model, and wild animals, with the aim of gaining insight into the patterns of neural investment in individual cognition and collective behaviors.
Keywords: sociality, collective behavior, cognitive abilities, social signals, neural basis of behavior
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.