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Despite their genetic similarity to humans, our understanding of the role of genes on cognitive traits in chimpanzees remains virtually unexplored. Here, we examined the relationship between genetic variation in the arginine vasopressin V1a receptor gene (AVPR1A) and social cognition in chimpanzees. Studies have shown that chimpanzees are polymorphic for a deletion in a sequence in the 59 flanking region of the AVPR1A, DupB, which contains the variable RS3 repetitive element, which has been associated with variation in social behavior in humans. Results revealed that performance on the social cognition task was significantly heritable. Furthermore, males with one DupB1 allele performed significantly better and were more responsive to socio-communicative cues than males homozygous for the DupB- deletion. Performance on a non-social cognition task was not associated with the AVPR1A genotype. The collective findings show that AVPR1A polymorphisms are associated with individual differences in performance on a receptive joint attention task in chimpanzees.


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Sci Rep, 4 3774. doi:

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.