Evolutionary Neuroscience


Digital rendering of primate brains in skulls


The Laboratory for Evolutionary Neuroscience is dedicated to studying the evolution of brain structure and molecular function in primates and other mammals. Our research interests center on comparative investigations of brains from a diversity of species, including humans, to make discoveries about the evolution of behavior, communication abilities, cognition, vulnerability to neurodegenerative illnesses, and more.

The lab is also the biobank repository of the National Chimpanzee Brain Resource, which serves to facilitate research advancement through the collection and distribution of chimpanzee neuroimaging data and postmortem brain samples. 



"As a budding anthropologist, my interest lies with the human brain because there are still huge gaps in our understanding of how this complicated and fascinating organ has evolved."

Elaine Miller

PhD Student ’23, Human Paleobiology

Research Interests

Research in this lab explores how brains differ among species and how this variation is correlated with behavior, shaped by the rules of developmental biology, and encoded in the genome. In particular, research compares the anatomy and molecular function of the human brain to that of the great apes: chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans. The lab also investigates how brain structure changes across the lifespan among primate species. Researchers in the lab are examining the correlation between brain size and gene expression, energetics, neuronal morphology, and cell type distributions.

Select Publications

N. Staes, J.B. Smaers, A.E. Kunkle, W.D. Hopkins, B.J. Bradley, and C.C. Sherwood (2019) Evolutionary divergence of neuroanatomical organization and related genes in chimpanzees and bonobos. Cortex 118: 154-164.

C.C. Sherwood and A. Gómez-Robles (2017) Brain plasticity and human evolution. Annual Review of Anthropology 46: 399-419.

M.K. Edler, C.C. Sherwood, R.S. Meindl, W.D. Hopkins, J.J. Ely, J.M Erwin, E.J. Mufson, P.R. Hof, and M.A. Raghanti (2017) Aged chimpanzees exhibit pathologic hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiology of Aging 59: 107-120.

For more publications visit Dr. Chet Sherwood's Google Scholar page.

Lab Researchers


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Molly Karl