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Brain morphology predicts social intelligence in wild cleaner fish.


ABSTRACT: It is generally agreed that variation in social and/or environmental complexity yields variation in selective pressures on brain anatomy, where more complex brains should yield increased intelligence. While these insights are based on many evolutionary studies, it remains unclear how ecology impacts brain plasticity and subsequently cognitive performance within a species. Here, we show that in wild cleaner fish (Labroides dimidiatus), forebrain size of high-performing individuals tested in an ephemeral reward task covaried positively with cleaner density, while cerebellum size covaried negatively with cleaner density. This unexpected relationship may be explained if we consider that performance in this task reflects the decision rules that individuals use in nature rather than learning abilities: cleaners with relatively larger forebrains used decision-rules that appeared to be locally optimal. Thus, social competence seems to be a suitable proxy of intelligence to understand individual differences under natural conditions.

SUBMITTER: Triki Z 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7752907 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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