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 scans, postmortem brain samples, atlas tools, and related genetic, health, life history, and behavioral datasets. 

Explore the National Chimpanzee Brain Resource


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, impacted by experience, 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 brain structure changes across the lifespan among primate species. Researchers in the lab are mapping the evolution of brain structure and examining the correlation between brain size and gene expression, energetics, neuronal morphology, and cell type distributions.


Select Publications

V. Kulik, L.D. Reyes, and C.C. Sherwood (2023) Coevolution of language and tools in the human brain: an ALE meta-analysis of neural activation during syntactic processing and tool use. Progress in Brain Research 275: 93-115.

E.N. Miller, P.R. Hof, C.C. Sherwood, and W.D. Hopkins (2021) The paracingulate sulcus is a unique feature of the medial frontal cortex shared by great apes and humans. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 96: 26-36.

E.E. Guevara, W.D. Hopkins, P.R. Hof, J.J. Ely, B.J. Bradley, and C.C. Sherwood (2021) Comparative analysis reveals distinctive epigenetic features of the human cerebellum. PLOS Genetics 17: e1009506.

C.C. Sherwood, S.B. Miller, M. Karl, C.D. Stimpson, K.A. Phillips, B. Jacobs, P.R. Hof, M.A. Raghanti, and J.B. Smaers (2020) Invariant synapse density and neuronal connectivity scaling in primate neocortical evolution. Cerebral Cortex 30: 5604-5615.

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


Madeline Bramel

Madeline Bramel

BS/MS Student

Anastasia Dorenbusch

Anastasia Dorenbusch

Masters Student

Tanya Guduza

Tanyaradzwa Guduza

Masters Student

Alison Sherwood

Alison Sherwood

Masters Student















Former Lab Members

  • Nicole Barger - AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, Division of Environmental Biology, Directorate of Biological Sciences, National Science Foundation
  • Sarah Barks - Senior Director, STEM Career Community and Analytics, Grinnell College
  • Amy Bauernfeind - Associate Professor of Anatomy in Neuroscience & Vice Chair of Education, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
  • Serena Bianchi - Science Communicator In-Residence, Department of Psychology, Concordia University, Canada
  • Christine Charvet - Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy, Physiology & Pharmacology, Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Alexandra de Sousa - Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, Bath Spa University, UK
  • Tetyana Duka - Research Laboratory Manager, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology, Georgetown University Medical Center
  • Melissa Edler - Research Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Kent State University
  • Aida Gómez-Robles - Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University College London, UK
  • Elaine Guevara - Lecturer, Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University
  • Dustin Howard - PhD Student, Department of Biology, The George Washington University
  • Aminu Imam - Lecturer, Department of Anatomy, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
  • Molly Karl - Laboratory Manager, The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Fenna Krienen - Assistant Professor, Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University
  • Veronika Kulik - Research Technician, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  • Daniel Miller - Assistant Professor, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Gerard Muntané Medina - Visiting Associate Professor, Institut de Biologia Evolutiva, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain
  • Mary Ann Raghanti - Professor, Department of Anthropology, Kent State University
  • Laura Reyes - Scientific Program Analyst, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health
  • Natalie Schenker-Ahmed - Project Manager, Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • Muhammad Spocter - Professor, Department of Anatomy, Des Moines University
  • Nicky Staes - Postdoctoral Scientist, Centre for Research and Conservation, Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp & Behavioural Ecology and Ecophysiology Group, University of Antwerp, Belgium
  • Cheryl Stimpson - Senior Research Associate, The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine
  • Esther Stoppani  
  • Andrey Verendeev - Science Writer, BrainPOP