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Brain12 August 2016 – Social Comparison, Cooperation and the Evolution of the Social Brain. 

Published in Scientific Reports today, we describe how evaluating the reputation of others relative to oneself leads to the evolution of cooperation.  Social comparison is a well-known human disposition and we have investigated this for indirect reciprocity, a type of cooperation which is distinctive in human society.

Through simulation we find that a dominant rule emerges – evolution works in favour of those who choose to help others just as successful, or more successful, than themselves. 

These results have relevance to the evolution of the brain, the size of which is disproportionately large as compared to other species. The Social Brain Hypothesis states that the disproportionately large brain size in humans exists as a consequence of humans evolving in large and complex social groups.

As making relative judgements concerning helping others has been influential for human survival, we propose that the complexity of constantly assessing individuals has been a sufficiently difficult task to promote the expansion of the brain over many generations of human reproduction. Read more about this news here.

Because the particular cooperation has been developed through computational methods, and inspired from distributed engineering problems in 5G communications, the findings lend themselves to the future intelligent and autonomous systems. The story has been featured in 50 media channels including Economic Times IndiaNew HistorianBig News NetworkPune MirrorAmerican News ReportScience DailyRed OrbitND TVNature World NewsDaily MailBusiness InsiderGiz ModoThe IETDispatch WeeklyThe Siasat WeeklyMid-dayMedical DailyMed India and The Asian Age.

Acknowledgement: news image courtesy of GotCredit under CC.