In humans, the wakeful resting condition is characterized by a default mode of brain function involving high levels of activity within a functionally connected network of brain regions. This network has recently been implicated in mental self-projection into the past, the future, or another individual's perspective. Here we use [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography imaging to assess resting-state brain activity in our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, as a potential window onto their mental world and compare these results with those of a human sample. We find that, like humans, chimpanzees show high levels of activity within default mode areas, including medial prefrontal and medial parietal cortex. Chimpanzees differ from our human sample in showing higher levels of activity in ventromedial prefrontal cortex and lower levels of activity in left-sided cortical areas involved in language and conceptual processing in humans. Our results raise the possibility that the resting state of chimpanzees involves emotionally laden episodic memory retrieval and some level of mental self-projection, albeit in the absence of language and conceptual processing.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Another window into the minds of chimps and humans
Rilling et al. compare resting-state brain activity in humans and chimpanzees: