It has long been assumed that social animals, such as humans, are born with a brain system that has evolved to support social affiliation. However, the evidence does not necessarily support this assumption. Alternatively, social animals can be defined as those who cannot survive alone and rely on members from their group to regulate their ongoing physiology (or allostasis). The rather simple evolutionary constraint of social dependency for survival can be sufficient to make the social environment vitally salient, and to provide the ultimate driving force for socially crafted brain development and learning. In this Perspective, we propose a framework for sociality and specify a set of hypotheses on the mechanisms of social development and underlying neural systems. The theoretical shift proposed here implies that profound human characteristics, including but not limited to sociality, are acquired at an early age, while social interactions provide key wiring instructions that determine brain development.
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We thank K. Toledano for his contribution to the illustrations.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Atzil, S., Gao, W., Fradkin, I. et al. Growing a social brain. Nat Hum Behav 2, 624–636 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-018-0384-6
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