As part of "Brain Awareness Week"
The areas of the brain that are involved in our social abilities are tightly coupled with the reward systems, and are consistent across primate species, meaning they're valuable to our survival and have been conserved through evolution, he said.
We're able to read others' faces to infer information about sex, age and mood, for example. (College men, Platt has shown experimentally, are suckers for a pretty face; women, not so much.)
Primates are also able to understand, and apparently care about, what others in their group are experiencing. "Monkeys pay attention to what happens to other monkeys," Platt said, especially when their companions are receiving a squirt of tasty juice and they aren't.
There was also a bit about lemurs cruising around with wireless video cameras on their heads, but he didn't show the video.
Platt, who is the Director of Duke's Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, has been supported by the National Institutes of Mental Health, the National Eye Institute, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, autism foundations, and the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences.
Brain Awareness Week