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Origin of man now proved. Metaphysic must flourish. He who understands
baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke.

——Charles Darwin, Notebook M 83e, 1838.

Primate cognition is the study of the intellectual and behavioral skills of primates, particularly in the fields of psychology, behavioral biology, primatology, and anthropology.[1]

Primates are capable of high levels of cognition; some make tools and use them to acquire foods and for social displays;[2][3] some have sophisticated hunting strategies requiring cooperation, influence and rank;[4] they are status conscious, manipulative and capable of deception;[5] they can recognise kin and conspecifics;[6][7] they can learn to use symbols and understand aspects of human language including some relational syntax, concepts of number and numerical sequence.[8][9][10]

Studies in primate cognitionEdit

Theory of mindEdit

Premack and Woodruff's 1978 article "Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind?" was a contentious issue because of the problem of inferring from animal behavior the existence of thinking, of the existence of a concept of self or self-awareness, or of particular thoughts.

Non-human research still has a major place in this field, however, and is especially useful in illuminating which nonverbal behaviors signify components of theory of mind, and in pointing to possible stepping points in the evolution of what many claim to be a uniquely human aspect of social cognition. While it is difficult to study human-like theory of mind and mental states in species which we do not yet describe as "minded" at all, and about whose potential mental states we have an incomplete understanding, researchers can focus on simpler components of more complex capabilities.

For example, many researchers focus on animals' understanding of intention, gaze, perspective, or knowledge (or rather, what another being has seen). Part of the difficulty in this line of research is that observed phenomena can often be explained as simple stimulus-response learning, as it is in the nature of any theorizers of mind to have to extrapolate internal mental states from observable behavior. Recently, most non-human theory of mind research has focused on monkeys and great apes, who are of most interest in the study of the evolution of human social cognition.

There has been some controversy over the interpretation of evidence purporting to show theory of mind ability—or inability—in animals. Two examples serve as demonstration: first, Povinelli et al. (1990)[11] presented chimpanzees with the choice of two experimenters from which to request food: one who had seen where food was hidden, and one who, by virtue of one of a variety of mechanisms (having a bucket or bag over his head; a blindfold over his eyes; or being turned away from the baiting) does not know, and can only guess. They found that the animals failed in most cases to differentially request food from the "knower." By contrast, Hare, Call, and Tomasello (2001)[12] found that subordinate chimpanzees were able to use the knowledge state of dominant rival chimpanzees to determine which container of hidden food they approached.

Tomasello and like-minded colleagues who originally argued that great apes did not have theory of mind have since reversed their position. Povinelli and his colleagues, however, maintain that Tomasello's group has misinterpreted the results of their experiments. They point out that most evidence in support of great ape theory of mind involves naturalistic settings to which the apes may have already adapted through past learning. Their "reinterpretation hypothesis" explains away all current evidence supporting attribution of mental states to others in chimpanzees as merely evidence of risk-based learning; that is, the chimpanzees learn through experience that certain behaviors in other chimpanzees have a probability of leading to certain responses, without necessarily attributing knowledge or other intentional states to those other chimpanzees. They therefore propose testing theory of mind abilities in great apes in novel, and not naturalistic settings. Kristin Andrews takes the reinterpretation hypothesis one step further, arguing that it implies that even the well-known false-belief test used to test children's theory of mind is susceptible to being interpreted as a result of learning.

There is however no reason to dismiss theory of mind just because "it is learned", since the idea of irreplaceable innate capabilities are based on research on binary computers and do not reflect how real brains work. [original research?]

Real brains learn by statistical degrees of association, which might emerge into mind without any need for fundamentally special skills. While the limited number of neurons in an ape brain may put some constrains on how far the understanding can go, the idea of dismissing concrete evidence of basic eye-serving "because it is learned" or because "it can be something else" is actually metaphysical definition quibble with no scientific justification whatsoever. Learned skills are patently not false just because they are learned, and there is no reason to believe that something unlearnable even could evolve through evolution, since learning is stimuli sorting among synapses and evolution is selection sorting among alleles.

LanguageEdit

Further information: Nim Chimpsky

The modeling of human language in animals is known as animal language research. Nim Chimpsky, a chimpanzee, was successfully taught 125 signs during his life, though some disagree on whether this can be constituted as true language. There have been other, more successful animal language projects, such as Kanzi and Koko, as well as some parrots.[citation needed]

It has been suggested that Nim Chimpsky's limited success was due to short training sessions, rather than true language immersion.[citation needed]

Tool useEdit

Further information: Tool use by animals#Primates
Gorrila tool use-Efi
Tool use by a gorilla
PhloxBotAdded by PhloxBot

Research in 2007 shows that chimpanzees in the Fongoli savannah sharpen sticks to use as spears when hunting, considered the first evidence of systematic use of weapons in a species other than humans.[13][14]

Problem solvingEdit

In 1913, Wolfgang Köhler started writing a book on problem solving titled The Mentality of Apes (1917). In this research, Köhler observed the manner in which chimpanzees solve problems, such as that of retrieving bananas when positioned out of reach. He found that they stacked wooden crates to use as makeshift ladders in order to retrieve the food. If the bananas were placed on the ground outside of the cage, they used sticks to lengthen the reach of their arms.

Köhler concluded that the chimps had not arrived at these methods through trial-and-error (which American psychologist Edward Thorndike had claimed to be the basis of all animal learning, through his law of effect), but rather that they had experienced an insight (also sometimes known as an “aha experience”), in which, having realized the answer, they then proceeded to carry it out in a way that was, in Köhler’s words, “unwaveringly purposeful.”

Asking questions and giving negative answersEdit

In the 1970s and the 1980s there had been suggestions that apes are unable to ask questions and to give negative answers. According to the numerous published studies [15][16][17][18][19] apes are able to answer human questions, and the vocabulary of the acculturated apes contains question words. Despite these abilities, according to the published research literature, apes are not able to ask questions themselves, and in human-primate conversations questions are asked by the humans only. Ann and David Premacks designed a potentially promising methodology to teach apes to ask questions in the 1970s: “In principle interrogation can be taught either by removing an element from a familiar situation in the animal’s world or by removing the element from a language that maps the animal’s world. It is probable that one can induce questions by purposefully removing key elements from a familiar situation. Suppose a chimpanzee received its daily ration of food at a specific time and place, and then one day the food was not there. A chimpanzee trained in the interrogative might inquire ‘Where is my food?’ or, in Sarah’s case, ‘My food is ?’ Sarah was never put in a situation that might induce such interrogation because for our purposes it was easier to teach Sarah to answer questions”.[20]

A decade later Premacks wrote: "Though she [Sarah] understood the question, she did not herself ask any questions -- unlike the child who asks interminable questions, such as What that? Who making noise? When Daddy come home? Me go Granny's house? Where puppy? Sarah never delayed the departure of her trainer after her lessons by asking where the trainer was going, when she was returning, or anything else".[21]

Despite all their achievements, Kanzi and Panbanisha also have not demonstrated the ability to ask questions so far. Joseph Jordania suggested that the ability to ask questions could be the crucial cognitive threshold between human and ape mental abilities.[22] Jordania suggested that asking questions is not a matter of the ability of using syntactic structures, that it is primarily a matter of cognitive ability. Questions can be (and are) asked without the use of syntactic structures, with the help of the questions intonation only (like this is the case in children's early pre-linguistic development).

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Michael Tomasello & Josep Call (1997). Primate cognition.
  2. Boesch, C. & Boesch, H. (1990). Tool Use and Tool Making in Wild Chimpanzees. Folia Primatol 54 (1-2): 86–99.
  3. Westergaard, G. C., et al. (1998). Why some capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) use probing tools (and others do not). Journal of Comparative Psychology 112 (2): 207–211.
  4. de Waal, F. B. M. & Davis, J. M. (2003). Capuchin cognitive ecology: cooperation based on projected returns. Neuropsychologia 41 (2): 221–228.
  5. Paar, L. A., Winslow, J. T., Hopkins, W. D. & de Waal, F. B. M. (2000). Recognizing facial cues: Individual discrimination by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Journal of Comparative Psychology 114 (1): 47–60.
  6. Paar, L. A. & de Waal, F. B. M. (1999). Visual kin recognition in chimpanzees. Nature 399 (6737): 647–8.
  7. Fujita, K., Watanabe, K., Widarto, T. H. & Suryobroto, B. (1997). Discrimination of macaques by macaques: The case of sulawesi species. Primates 38 (3): 233–245.
  8. Call, J. (2001). Object permanence in orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), and children (Homo sapiens). Journal of Comparative Psychology 115 (2): 159–171.
  9. Itakura, S. & Tanaka, M. (1998). Use of experimenter-given cues during object-choice tasks by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), an orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), and human infants (Homo sapiens). Journal of Comparative Psychology 112 (2): 119–126.
  10. Gouteux, S., Thinus-Blanc, C. & Vauclair, J. (2001). Rhesus monkeys use geometric and nongeometric information during a reorientation task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 130 (3): 505–519.
  11. (1990). Inferences about guessing and knowing by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Journal of Comparative Psychology 104 (3): 203–210.
  12. (2001). Do chimpanzees know what conspecifics know and do not know?. Animal Behaviour 61 (1): 139–151.
  13. http://desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070223/NEWS/702230385/-1/NEWS04
  14. Chimps Use "Spears" to Hunt Mammals, Study Says
  15. Terrace, H. S. 1980. Nim. London: Eyre Methuen.
  16. Gardner, R. A. and B. T. Gardner. (1998) The structure of learning: From sign stimuli to sign language. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, publishers
  17. Premack, David. (1976) Language and intelligence in ape and man. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
  18. Rumbaugh, D. M., and T. V. Gill. (1977) "Use of ‘Stock’ sentences for other than the originally intended purpose.” In Language learning by a chimpanzee. The Lana project. Edited by Duane M. Rumbaugh, pp. 172-192. New York: Academic Press.
  19. Patterson, F., and E. Linden. (1981) The education of Koko. New York: Holt, Renchart and Winston.
  20. Premack, D., and A. J. Premack (1972) “Teaching language to an ape.” Scientific American, Vol. 227, No. 4. W. H. Freeman and Company.
  21. Premack, D., and A. J. Premack (1983) The mind of an ape. New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company. Pg. 29
  22. J. Jordania, Who Asked the First Question?, Logos, 2006

Further readingEdit

  • (2001). Rhesus monkeys use geometric and nongeometric information during a reorientation task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 130 (3): 505–519.
  • (2001). Object permanence in orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus), chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), and children (Homo sapiens). Journal of Comparative Psychology 115 (2): 159–171.
  • (1998). Object permanence in orangutans (Pongo pygmaues) and squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus). Journal of Comparative Psychology 112 (2): 137–152.
  • (2003). A test of object permanence in a new-world monkey species, cotton top tamarins (Saguinus Oedipus). Animal Cognition 6 (1): 27–37.
  • (1998). Why some capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) use probing tools (and others do not). Journal of Comparative Psychology 112 (2): 207–211.
  • (2000). Spontaneous discrimination of natural stimuli. Journal of Comparative Psychology 114 (4): 392–400.
  • (2004). A test of the generality of perceptually-based categories found in infants: Attentional differences toward natural kinds by New World monkeys. Developmental Science 7 (2): 185–193.
  • (1999). Visual kin recognition in chimpanzees. Nature 399 (6737).
  • (1997). Discrimination of macaques by macaques: The case of sulawesi species. Primates 38 (3): 233–245.
  • (2000). Recognizing facial cues: Individual discrimination by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Journal of Comparative Psychology 114 (1): 47–60.
  • (1998). Face recognition in primates: A cross-species study. Behavioural Processes 43: 87–96.
  • (1999). Is the inversion effect in rhesus monkeys face-specific?. Animal Cognition 2: 123–129.
  • (2001). Spontaneous representation of number in cotton-top tamarins (Saguinus Oedipus). Journal of Comparative Psychology 115 (3): 248–257.
  • (2001). Summation and numerous judgments of sequentially presented sets of items by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). Journal of Comparative Psychology 115 (2): 181–191.
  • (1995). Self- recognition in primates: Phylogeny and the salience of species-typical features. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 92 (23): 10811–10814.
  • (1995). Self-recognition in primates: Further reflections create a hall of mirrors. Animal Behavior 50: 1533–1542.
  • (1997). Self-recognition in Saguinus? A critical essay. Animal Behavior 54: 1563–1567.
  • (1997). Life beyond the mirror: A reply to Anderson and Gallup. Animal Behavior 54: 1568–1571.
  • (2001). Tracking responses related to self- recognition: A frequency comparison of responses to mirrors, photographs, and videotapes by cotton top tamarins (Saguinus Oedipus). Journal of Comparative Psychology 115 (4): 432–438.
  • (2005). The monkey in the mirror: Hardly a stranger. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102: 11140–11147.
  • (1999). Macaques but not lemurs co-orient visually with humans. Folia Primatol 70 (1): 17–22.
  • (1998). Use of experimenter-given cues during object-choice tasks by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), an orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), and human infants (Homo sapiens). Journal of Comparative Psychology 112 (2): 119–126.
  • (2002). Use of experimenter-given cues in visual co-orienting and in an object-choice task by a new world monkey species, cotton top tamarins (Saguinus Oedipus). Journal of Comparative Psychology 116 (1): 3–11.
  • (1998). Five primate species follow the visual gaze of conspecifics. Animal Behavior 55: 1063–1069.
  • (2003). Monkeys reject unequal pay. Nature 425 (6955): 297–299.
  • (2003). Capuchin cognitive ecology: cooperation based on projected returns. Neuropsychologia 41 (2): 221–228.


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