Most putative cases of teaching in nonhuman animals involve parent-offspring interactions. The interpretation of these cases, particularly with regard to the cognitive processes involved, is controversial. Qualitative and quantitative observations made in nonhuman primates suggest that, in some species, mothers encourage their infants’ independent locomotion and that encouragement can be considered a form of instruction. In macaques, experience in raising previous offspring accounts in part for variability between mothers in propensity to encourage infant motor skills. Parsimony suggests that the (...) cognitive mechanisms underlying maternal encouragement of infant locomotion in primates as well as some other putative cases of animal teaching may involve first-order intentionality (i.e., goal-directed behavior) and not higher cognitive processes such as attribution of knowledge/ignorance or perspective-taking. Encouragement of infant independent locomotion early in life may have benefits to mothers later on, in terms of reduction of costs of infant carrying, earlier infant weaning, and increased probability of reproduction in the mating season. The elementary forms of teaching observed in nonhuman primates may have played an important role in the origin and evolution of human culture. (shrink)
Since the BBS article in which Premack and Woodruff (1978) asked “Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind?,” it has been repeatedly claimed that there is observational and experimental evidence that apes have mental state concepts, such as “want” and “know.” Unlike research on the development of theory of mind in childhood, however, no substantial progress has been made through this work with nonhuman primates. A survey of empirical studies of imitation, self-recognition, social relationships, deception, role-taking, and perspective-taking (...) suggests that in every case where nonhuman primate behavior has been interpreted as a sign of theory of mind, it could instead have occurred by chance or as a product of nonmentalistic processes such as associative learning or inferences based on nonmental categories. Arguments to the effect that, in spite of this, the theory of mind hypothesis should be accepted because it is more parsimonious than alternatives or because it is supported by convergent evidence are not compelling. Such arguments are based on unsupportable assumptions about the role of parsimony in science and either ignore the requirement that convergent evidence proceed from independent assumptions, or fail to show that it supports the theory of mind hypothesis over nonmentalist alternatives. Progress in research on theory of mind requires experimental procedures that can distinguish the theory of mind hypothesis from nonmentalist alternatives. A procedure that may have this potential is proposed. It uses conditional discrimination training and transfer tests to determine whether chimpanzees have the concept “see.” Commentators are invited to identify flaws in the procedure and to suggest alternatives. Key Words: apes; associative learning; concepts; convergence; deception; evolution of intelligence; folk psychology; imitation; mental state attribution; monkeys; parsimony; perspective-taking; primates; role-taking; self-recognition; social cognition; social intelligence; theory of mind. (shrink)
A persistent methodological problem in primate social cognition research has been how to determine experimentally whether primates represent the internal goals of other agents or just the external goals of their actions. This is an instance of Daniel Povinelli’s more general challenge that no experimental protocol currently used in the field is capable of distinguishing genuine mindreading animals from their complementary behavior-reading counterparts. We argue that current methods used to test for internal-goal attribution in primates do not solve (...) Povinelli’s problem. To overcome the problem, a new type of experimental approach is needed, one which is supported by an alternative theoretical account of animal mindreading, called the appearance-reality mindreading (ARM) theory. We provide an outline of the ARM theory and show how it can be used to design a novel way to test for internal-goal attribution in chimpanzees. Unlike protocols currently in use, the experimental design presented here has the power, in principle and in practice, to distinguish genuine mindreading chimpanzees from those who predict others’ behavior solely on the basis of behavioral/environmental cues. Our solution to Povinelli’s problem has important consequences for a similar debate in developmental psychology over when preverbal infants should be credited with the ability to attribute internal goals. If what we argue for here in the case of nonhuman primates is sound, then the clearest tests for internal-goal attribution in infants will be those that test for attributions of discrepant or ‘false’ perceptions. (shrink)
Two substantive comments are made. The first is methodological, and concerns Heyes's proposals for a critical test for theory of mind. The second is theoretical, and concerns the appropriateness of asking questions about theory of mind in nonhuman primates. Although Heyes warns against the apparent simplicity of the theory of mind hypothesis, she underplays the linguistic implications.
Heyes argues that nonhuman primates are unable to imitate, recognize themselves in mirrors, and take another's perspective, and that none of these capabilities are evidence for theory of mind. First, her evaluation of the evidence, especially for imitation and mirror self-recognition, is inaccurate. Second, she neglects to address the important developmental evidence that these capabilities are necessary precursors in the development of theory of mind.
Recent studies with human infants and nonhuman primates reveal that posture interacts with the expression and stability of handedness. Converging results demonstrate that quadrupedal locomotion hinders the expression of handedness, whereas bipedal posture enhances preferred hand use. From an evolutionary perspective, these findings suggest that right-handedness may have emerged first, following the adoption of bipedal locomotion, with speech emerging later.
Gurven suggests that the tolerated scrounging model has limited relevance for explaining patterns of food transfers in human populations. However, this conclusion is based on a restricted interpretation of the tolerated scrounging model proposed originally by Blurton Jones (1987). Examples of food transfers in nonhuman primates illustrate that the assumptions of Gurven's tolerated scrounging model are open to question.
We directly tested the predictions of the approximate number system (ANS) and the object file system in the spontaneous numerical judgments of prosimian primates. Prior work indicates that when human infants and a few species of nonhuman animals are given a single-trial choice between two sequentially baited buckets they choose the bucket with the greater amount of food but only when the quantities are small. This pattern of results has been interpreted as evidence that a limited capacity object-file system (...) is used to track small numbers of objects and that the ANS is not invoked under these circumstances. Here we tested prosimian primates in food choice comparisons that were chosen to contrast predictions of the ANS and object-file systems. We found that prosimian primates consistently chose the larger of two sets when they differed by a 1:3 ratio regardless of whether both values were small (≤ 3), both values were large (> 3), or there was one small and one large value. Prosimians were not able to robustly discriminate quantities that differed by a 1:2 ratio for the same three conditions, nor did they show a preference for small quantities that differed by a 2:3 ratio. These results implicate the ANS in the spontaneous numerical discriminations of nonhuman primates. (shrink)
Primate vocal communication is very different from human language. Differences are most pronounced in call production. Differences in production have been overemphasized, however, and distracted attention from the information that primates acquire when they hear vocalizations. In perception and cognition, continuities with language are more apparent. We suggest that natural selection has favored nonhuman primates who, upon hearing vocalizations, form mental representations of other individuals, their relationships, and their motives. This social knowledge constitutes a discrete, combinatorial system that (...) shares several features with language. It is probably a general primate characteristic whose appearance pre-dates the evolution of spoken language in our hominid ancestors. The prior evolution of social cognition created individuals who were preadapted to develop language. Several features thought to be unique to language—like discrete combinatorics and the encoding of propositional information—were not introduced by language. They arose, instead, because understanding social life and predicting others’ behavior requires a particular style of thinking. (shrink)
Granted that a given species is able to entertain beliefs and desires, i.e. to have (epistemic and motivational) internal states with semantically evaluable contents, one can raise the question of whether the species under investigation is, in addition, able to represent properties and events that are not only perceptual or physical, but mental, and use the latter to guide their actions, not only as reliable cues for achieving some output, but as mental cues (that is: whether it can 'read minds'). (...) The main aim of this article is to suggest that mindreading depends on two prior capacities : exercising simulation, as when one actively disengages from the present environment to imagine a counterfactual situation, and exploiting simulation, which implies that an imaginary situation is relocated within the real world. It is claimed that although apes have the first capacity, they don't have the second one, and therefore do not have access to mental attribution. (shrink)
Although positron emission tomography (PET) and the aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase (AADC) tracer 6-[18F]fluoro-L-m-tyrosine (FMT) has been used to assess the integrity of the presynaptic dopamine system in the brain, relatively little has been published in terms of brain FMT uptake values especially for normal human subjects. Twelve normal volunteer subjects were scanned using PET and FMT to determine the range of normal striatal uptake values using Patlak graphical analysis. For comparison, seven adult rhesus monkeys were studied and the data (...) analyzed in the same way. A subset of monkeys that were treated with a unilateral intracarotid artery infusion of the dopamine neurotoxin MPTP showed an 87% decrease in striatal FMT uptake. These findings support the use of PET and FMT to image AADC distribution in both normal and diseased brains using Patlak graphical analysis and tissue input functions. (shrink)
In this paper I consider whether traditional behaviors of animals, like traditions of humans, are transmitted by imitation learning. Review of the literature on problem solving by captive primates, and detailed consideration of two widely cited instances of purported learning by imitation and of culture in free-living primates (sweet-potato washing by Japanese macaques and termite fishing by chimpanzees), suggests that nonhuman primates do not learn to solve problems by imitation. It may, therefore, be misleading to treat animal (...) traditions and human culture as homologous (rather than analogous) and to refer to animal traditions as cultural. (shrink)
Male aggression against females in primates, including humans, often functions to control female sexuality to the male’s reproductive advantage. A comparative, evolutionary perspective is used to generate several hypotheses to help to explain cross-cultural variation in the frequency of male aggression against women. Variables considered include protection of women by kin, male-male alliances and male strategies for guarding mates and obtaining adulterous matings, and male resource control. The relationships between male aggression against women and gender ideologies, male domination of (...) women, and female sexuality are also considered. (shrink)
The radical nub of Byrne & Russon's argument is that passive priming effects can produce much of the evidence of higher-order cognition in nonhuman primates. In support of their position we review evidence of similar behavioral priming effects n humans. However, that evidence further suggests that even program-level imitative behavior can be produced through priming.
Given Heyes's construal of there is still no convincing evidence of theory of mind in human primates, much less nonhuman. Rather than making unfounded assumptions about what underlies human social competence, one should ask what mechanisms other primates have and then inquire whether more sophisticated elaborations of those might not account for much of human competence.
The highly recommended transposition of the dynamic system approach for tackling the question of apes' linguistic abilities has clearly not led to a demonstration that these primates have acquired language. Fundamental differences related to functional modalities – namely, use of the declarative and the form of engagement between mother and infant – can be observed in the way humans and apes use their communicatory systems.
Sexual size dimorphism is generally associated with sexual selection via agonistic male competition in nonhuman primates. These primate models play an important role in understanding the origins and evolution of human behavior. Human size dimorphism is often hypothesized to be associated with high rates of male violence and polygyny. This raises the question of whether human dimorphism and patterns of male violence are inherited from a common ancestor with chimpanzees or are uniquely derived. Here I review patterns of, and (...) causal models for, dimorphism in humans and other primates. While dimorphism in primates is associated with agonistic male mate competition, a variety of factors can affect male and female size, and thereby dimorphism. The causes of human sexual size dimorphism are uncertain, and could involve several non-mutually-exclusive mechanisms, such as mate competition, resource competition, intergroup violence, and female choice. A phylogenetic reconstruction of the evolution of dimorphism, including fossil hominins, indicates that the modern human condition is derived. This suggests that at least some behavioral similarities with Pan associated with dimorphism may have arisen independently, and not directly from a common ancestor. (shrink)
The article analyzes the neural and functional grounding of language skills as well as their emergence in hominid evolution, hypothesizing stages leading from abilities known to exist in monkeys and apes and presumed to exist in our hominid ancestors right through to modern spoken and signed languages. The starting point is the observation that both premotor area F5 in monkeys and Broca's area in humans contain a “mirror system” active for both execution and observation of manual actions, and that F5 (...) and Broca's area are homologous brain regions. This grounded the mirror system hypothesis of Rizzolatti and Arbib (1998) which offers the mirror system for grasping as a key neural “missing link” between the abilities of our nonhuman ancestors of 20 million years ago and modern human language, with manual gestures rather than a system for vocal communication providing the initial seed for this evolutionary process. The present article, however, goes “beyond the mirror” to offer hypotheses on evolutionary changes within and outside the mirror systems which may have occurred to equip Homo sapiens with a language-ready brain. Crucial to the early stages of this progression is the mirror system for grasping and its extension to permit imitation. Imitation is seen as evolving via a so-called simple system such as that found in chimpanzees (which allows imitation of complex “object-oriented” sequences but only as the result of extensive practice) to a so-called complex system found in humans (which allows rapid imitation even of complex sequences, under appropriate conditions) which supports pantomime. This is hypothesized to have provided the substrate for the development of protosign, a combinatorially open repertoire of manual gestures, which then provides the scaffolding for the emergence of protospeech (which thus owes little to nonhuman vocalizations), with protosign and protospeech then developing in an expanding spiral. It is argued that these stages involve biological evolution of both brain and body. By contrast, it is argued that the progression from protosign and protospeech to languages with full-blown syntax and compositional semantics was a historical phenomenon in the development of Homo sapiens, involving few if any further biological changes. Key Words: gestures; hominids; language evolution; mirror system; neurolinguistics; primates; protolanguage; sign language; speech; vocalization. (shrink)
The quest for a ``theory of nonhuman minds'''' to assessclaims about the moral status of animals is misguided. Misframedquestions about animal minds facilitate the appropriation ofanimal welfare by the animal user industry. When misframed, thesequestions shift the burden of proof unreasonably to animalwelfare regulators. An illustrative instance of misframing can befound in the US National Research Council''s 1998 publication thatreports professional efforts to define the psychologicalwell-being of nonhuman primates, a condition that the US 1985animal welfare act requires users of (...)primates to promote. Thereport claims that ``psychological well-being'''' is a hypotheticalconstruct whose validity can only be determined by a theory thatdefines its properties and links it to observed data. Thisconception is used to contest common knowledge about animalwelfare by treating psychological well-being as a mentalcondition whose properties are difficult to discover. Thisframework limits regulatory efforts to treat animal subjects lessoppressively and serves the interests of the user industry.A more liberatory framework can be constructed by recognizing thecontested nature of welfare norms, where competing conceptions ofanimal welfare have implications about norm-setting authority, asit does in other regulatory contexts, e.g., food safety. Properlyconceptualized welfare should include both the avoidance ofdistressful circumstances and the relationship between ananimal''s capacities to engage in enjoyable activities and itsopportunities to exercise these capacities. This conception ofanimal welfare avoids appropriation by scientific experts. (shrink)
We hypothesize that juvenile baboons are less efficient foragers than adult baboons owing to their small size, lower level of knowledge and skill, and/or lesser ability to maintain access to resources. We predict that as resources are more difficult to extract, juvenile baboons will demonstrate lower efficiency than adults will because of their lower levels of experience. In addition, we hypothesize that juvenile baboons will be more likely to allocate foraging time to easier-to-extract resources owing to their greater efficiency in (...) acquiring those resources.We use feeding efficiency and time allocation data collected on a wild, free-ranging, non-provisioned population of chacma baboons (Papio hamadryas ursinus) in the Moremi Wildlife Reserve, Okavango Delta, Botswana to test these hypotheses. The major findings of this study are:1. Juvenile baboons are significantly less efficient foragers than adult baboons primarily for difficult-to-extract resources.We propose that this age-dependent variation in efficiency is due to differences in memory and other cognitive functions related to locating food resources, as is indicated by the greater amount of time juvenile baboons spend searching for food. There is no evidence that smaller body size or competitive disruption influences the differences in return rates found between adult and juvenile baboons in this study.2. An individual baboon’s feeding efficiency for a given resource can be used to predict the duration of its foraging bouts for that resource.These results contribute both to our understanding of the ontogeny of behavioral development in nonhuman primates, especially regarding foraging ability, and to current debate within the field of human behavioral ecology regarding the evolution of the juvenile period in primates and humans. (shrink)
Natural human behavior is segmented into action units, functionally related groups of movements with durations of a few seconds. This phenomenon can also be found in nonhuman primates and other mammals. In humans, a similar segmentation can be found in planning, preparatory behavior, perception, and speech.Temporal segmentation may be related to the functioning of short-term memory. Segmentation may thus be a central feature of neuronal integration. Segment length was hitherto thought to be determined by either capacity constraints or temporal (...) factors. Instead we show that segment length depends on the interplay between capacity and temporal factors. (shrink)
The scientific, ethical, and policy issues raised by research involving the engraftment of human neural stem cells into the brains of nonhuman primates are explored by an interdisciplinary working group in this Policy Forum. The authors consider the possibility that this research might alter the cognitive capacities of recipient great apes and monkeys, with potential significance for their moral status.
Research on mirror self-recognition where animals are observed for mirror-guided self-directed behaviour has predominated the empirical approach to self-awareness in nonhuman primates. The ability to direct behaviour to previously unseen parts of the body such as the inside of the mouth, or grooming the eye by aid of mirrors has been interpreted as recognition of self and evidence of a self-concept. Three decades of research has revealed that contrary to monkeys, most great apes (humans, common chimpanzees, pygmy chimpanzees and (...) orangutans but not the gorilla) have convincingly displayed the capacity to recognize self by mirrors. The putative discontinuity in phylogeny of the ability suggests the existence of a so-called cognitive gap between great apes and the rest of the animal kingdom. However, methodological and theoretical inconsistencies regarding the empirical approach prevail. For instance, the observation of self-directed behaviour might not be as straightforward as it seems. In addition, the interpretation of mirror self-recognition as an index of self-awareness is challenged by alternative explanations, raising doubt about some assumptions behind mirror self-recognition. To evaluate the significance of the test in discussions of the concept of self this paper presents and analyses some major arguments raised on the mirror task. (shrink)
Study of “theory of mind” in nonhuman primates is hampered both by the lack of rigorous methodology that Heyes stresses and by our lack of knowledge of the cognitive neuroscience of nonhuman primate conceptual structure. Recent advances in this field indicate that progress can be made by first asking simpler research questions.
Social factors play a key role in the structuring of vocal repertoires at the individual level, notably in nonhuman primates. Some authors suggested that, at the species level too, social life may have driven the evolution of communicative complexity, but this has rarely been empirically tested. Here, we use a comparative approach to address this issue. We investigated vocal variability, at both the call type and the repertoire levels, in three forest-dwelling species of Cercopithecinae presenting striking differences in their (...) social systems, in terms of social organization as well as social structure. We collected female call recordings from twelve De Brazza’s monkeys (Cercopithecus neglectus), six Campbell’s monkeys (Cercopithecus campbelli) and seven red-capped mangabeys (Cercocebus torquatus) housed in similar conditions. First, we noted that the level of acoustic variability and individual distinctiveness found in several call types was related to their importance in social functioning. Contact calls, essential to intra-group cohesion, were the most individually distinctive regardless of the species, while threat calls were more structurally variable in mangabeys, the most ‘despotic’ of our three species. Second, we found a parallel between the degree of complexity of the species’ social structure and the size, diversity, and usage of its vocal repertoire. Mangabeys (most complex social structure) called twice as often as guenons and displayed the largest and most complex repertoire. De Brazza’s monkeys (simplest social structure) displayed the smallest and simplest repertoire. Campbell’s monkeys displayed an intermediate pattern. Providing evidence of higher levels of vocal variability in species presenting a more complex social system, our results are in line with the theory of a social-vocal coevolution of communicative abilities, opening new perspectives for comparative research on the evolution of communication systems in different animal taxa. (shrink)
This commentary focuses on the importance of auditory object processing for producing and comprehending human language, the relative lack of development of this capability in nonhuman primates, and the consequent need for hominid neurobiological evolution to enhance this capability in making the transition from protosign to protospeech to language.
Face recognition depends upon the uniqueness of each human face. This is accomplished by the patterns formed by the unique relationship among face features. Unique face-patterns are produced by the intrusion of random factors into the process of biological growth and development. Processes are described which enable a unique face-pattern to be represented as a percept in the visual sensory system. The components of the face recognition system are analyzed as is the manner in which the precept is connected through (...) microcircuits to a memory file so that the history of a perceiver’s encounters with a familiar face enables the perceiver to access a memory store that is a record of the outcome of past encounters with the perceived. The importance of the face recognition system in enabling humans to individuate members the social group is discussed, as well as the importance of face recognition in the development of the individual’s social identity and ability to be a collaborative member of the social groups to which it belongs. The role of prosopagnosia—the inability to recognize familiar faces—in furthering an understanding of the face recognition system is examined, as is its importance in demonstrating the crucial nature of face recognition in human social functions. It is proposed that human face recognition is not a unique phenomenon but is an elaboration of processes existing in nonhuman primates as well as in lower animals. (shrink)
Primate research suggests that affiliation is a highly complex construct. Studies of primate affiliation demonstrate the need to distinguish between various affiliative behaviors, consider relationships as emergent properties of these behaviors, define affiliation in the context of general environmental responsiveness, and address developmental changes in affiliation across the lifespan.
Research on human infants, adult nonhuman primates, and children and adults in diverse cultures provides converging evidence for four systems at the foundations of human knowledge. These systems are domain specific and serve to represent both entities in the perceptible world (inanimate manipulable objects and animate agents) and entities that are more abstract (numbers and geometrical forms). Human cognition may be based, as well, on a fifth system for representing social partners and for categorizing the social world into groups. (...) Research on infants and children may contribute both to understanding of these systems and to attempts to overcome misconceptions that they may foster. (shrink)
The charge that anthropomorphizing nonhuman animals is a fallacy is itself largely misguided and mythic. Anthropomorphism in the study of animal behavior is placed in its original, theological context. Having set the historical stage, I then discuss its relationship to a number of other, related issues: the role of anecdotal evidence, the taxonomy of related anthropomorphic claims, its relationship to the attribution of psychological states in general, and the nature of the charge of anthropomorphism as a categorical claim. I then (...) argue that the categorical reading of anthropomorphism cannot work and that it misrepresents what is being claimed when one claims that traits are shared between humans and nonhumans. We should think of such claims not as anthropomorphic per se– because that implies the trait is intrinsically human and only derivatively nonhuman. Instead, traits shared with mammals are mammalomorphic, for example, or primatomorphic when shared by primates. (shrink)
This is the only book that examines the theory and data on the development of implicit and explicit memory. It first describes the characteristics of implicit and explicit memory (including conscious recollection) and tasks used with adults to measure them. Next, it reviews the brain mechanisms thought to underlie implicit and explicit memory and the studies with amnesics that initially prompted the search for different neuroanatomically-based memory systems. Two chapters review the Jacksonian (first in, last out) principle and empirical evidence (...) for the hierarchical appearance and dissolution of two memory systems in animal models (rats, nonhuman primates), children, and normal/amnesic adults. Two chapters examine memory tasks used with human infants and evidence of implicit and explicit memory during early infancy. Three final chapters consider structural and processing accounts of adult memory dissociations, their applicability to infant memory dissociations, and implications of infant data for current concepts of implicit and explicit memory. (shrink)
The close kinship between humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans is a central theme among participants in the debate about human treatment of the other apes. Empathy is probably the single most important determinant of actual human moral behavior, including the treatment of nonhuman animals. Given the applied nature of questions about the treatment of captive apes, it is entirely appropriate that the close relationship between us should be highlighted. But the role that relatedness should play in ethical theory is less (...) clear. To the extent that legal and regulatory challenges to keeping apes in captivity are likely to be based on principles of theory, it is important to understand what roles evolutionary theory can play in deriving such principles. The development of ethically correct policies for captivity of animals will depend on taking into account both species-specific and individual differences in the ways that individuals perceive and conceptualize the spaces in which they live, and the choices with which they are presented. A fully evolutionary approach to cognition, a cognitive ethology, that is not just limited to the great apes or to primates is the best hope we have for understanding such perceptions and conceptions. (shrink)
Evidence from many species suggests that social, developmental, and cognitive variables are important influences on aggression. Few direct activational or organizational effects of hormones on aggression and dominance are found in nonhuman primates. Female aggression and dominance are relatively frequent and occur with low testosterone levels. Social, cultural, and developmental mechanisms have more important influences on dominance and aggression than hormones.
The species-specific organizational property of speech is a continual mouth open-close alternation, the two phases of which are subject to continual articulatory modulation. The cycle constitutes the syllable, and the open and closed phases are segments framescontent displays that are prominent in many nonhuman primates. The new role of Broca's area and its surround in human vocal communication may have derived from its evolutionary history as the main cortical center for the control of ingestive processes. The frame and content (...) components of speech may have subsequently evolved separate realizations within two general purpose primate motor control systems: (1) a motivation-related medial system, including anterior cingulate cortex and the supplementary motor area, for self-generated behavior, formerly responsible for ancestral vocalization control and now also responsible for frames, and (2) a lateral system, including Broca's area and surround, and Wernicke's area, specialized for response to external input (and therefore the emergent vocal learning capacity) and more responsible for content. (shrink)
Abstract In this paper I examine two claims that support the thesis that chimpanzees are substantive epistemic subjects. First, I defend the claim that chimpanzees are evidence gatherers (broadly construed to include the capacity to gather and use evidence). In the course of showing that this claim is probably true I will also show that, in being evidence gatherers, chimpanzees engage in a recognizable epistemic activity. Second, I defend the claim that chimpanzees achieve a degree of epistemic success while engaging (...) in epistemic activity. Typically humans qualify as substantive epistemic subjects. Again, typically, knowledge plays an integral role in intentional human behaviour. As a consequence of defending the claims that chimpanzees are evidence gatherers and achieve a degree of epistemic success while engaging in such epistemic activities, I will also have shown how knowledge plays an integral role in intentional chimpanzee behaviour. The importance of these arguments does not wholly reside in the significance of knowledge explaining some chimpanzee behaviour. Treatments of animal knowledge in the literature tend to go in one of two directions: either the treatment embraces reliabilism and so construes animal knowledge as reliably produced true beliefs (or, if not beliefs, the relevant analogue for non-linguistic animals), or it embraces an anthropocentric stance that treats animals as knowers only when they find themselves behaving in circumstances that, were it true of humans, would imply the presence of causally efficacious knowledge. What I offer here is another way of understanding non-linguistic animals, in this case chimpanzees, as knowers. (shrink)
The claim of consistent hemispheric specialisations across classes of chordates is undermined by the absence of population-based directional asymmetry of paw/hand use in rodents and primates. No homologue of the cerebral torque from right frontal to left occipital has been established in a nonhuman species. The null hypothesis that the torque is the sapiens-specific neural basis of language has not been disproved.
Neural correlates exist for a basic component of logical formulae, PREDICATE(x). Vision and audition research in primates and humans shows two independent neural pathways; one locates objects in body-centered space, the other attributes properties, such as colour, to objects. In vision these are the dorsal and ventral pathways. In audition, similarly separable “where” and “what” pathways exist. PREDICATE(x) is a schematic representation of the brain's integration of the two processes of delivery by the senses of the location of an (...) arbitrary referent object, mapped in parietal cortex, and analysis of the properties of the referent by perceptual subsystems. The brain computes actions using a few “deictic” variables pointing to objects. Parallels exist between such nonlinguistic variables and linguistic deictic devices. Indexicality and reference have linguistic and nonlinguistic (e.g., visual) versions, sharing the concept of attention. The individual variables of logical formulae are interpreted as corresponding to these mental variables. In computing action, the deictic variables are linked with “semantic” information about the objects, corresponding to logical predicates. Mental scene descriptions are necessary for practical tasks of primates, and preexist language phylogenetically. The type of scene descriptions used by nonhuman primates would be reused for more complex cognitive, ultimately linguistic, purposes. The provision by the brain's sensory/perceptual systems of about four variables for temporary assignment to objects, and the separate processes of perceptual categorization of the objects so identified, constitute a pre-adaptive platform on which an early system for the linguistic description of scenes developed. Key Words: argument; attention; deictic; dorsal; logic; neural; object; predicate; reference; ventral. (shrink)
This commentary criticizes nonverbal methods of assessing theory-of-mind on the basis of prior training of the critical response because they would encourage simple, nonmentalistic, associative solutions even in subjects with mentalistic capacities. I propose instead a new experimental paradigm based upon the use of spontaneous responses in less artificial situations. This method has already provided positive evidence of some level of ToM understanding in nonhuman primates.
Our target article argued that a genetically specified Universal Grammar (UG), capturing arbitrary properties of languages, is not tenable on evolutionary grounds, and that the close fit between language and language learners arises because language is shaped by the brain, rather than the reverse. Few commentaries defend a genetically specified UG. Some commentators argue that we underestimate the importance of processes of cultural transmission; some propose additional cognitive and brain mechanisms that may constrain language and perhaps differentiate humans from nonhuman (...)primates; and others argue that we overstate or understate the case against co-evolution of language genes. In engaging with these issues, we suggest that a new synthesis concerning the relationship between brains, genes, and language may be emerging. (shrink)
We cannot solve questions about imitative learning without knowing what motivates animals to copy others. Imitative capacities can be expected to be most pronounced in relation to situations and models of great social significance. Experimental research on nonhuman primates has thus far made little effort to present such situations and models.
A theory of how concept formation begins is presented that accounts for conceptual activity in the first year of life, shows how increasing conceptual complexity comes about, and predicts the order in which new types of information accrue to the conceptual system. In a compromise between nativist and empiricist views, it offers a single domain-general mechanism that redescribes attended spatiotemporal information into an iconic form. The outputs of this mechanism consist of types of spatial information that we know infants attend (...) to in the first months of life. These primitives form the initial basis of concept formation, allow explicit preverbal thought, such as recall, inferences, and simple mental problem solving, and support early language learning. The theory details how spatial concepts become associated with bodily feelings of force and trying. It also explains why concepts of emotions, sensory concepts such as color, and theory of mind concepts are necessarily later acquisitions because they lack contact with spatial descriptions to interpret unstructured internal experiences. Finally, commonalities between the concepts of preverbal infants and nonhuman primates are discussed. (shrink)
We argue that lateralities are not merely a result of phylogenetic processes but reflect probability functions that are influenced by task characteristics and extended practice. We support our argument by empirical findings on lateral biases in early infancy in general, and footedness in particular, and on hand preferences in nonhuman primates.
Nonhuman primates represent an important reservoir for the transmission of new infectious diseases to humans. While several working groups and international agencies have grappled with the ethics of xenotransplantation, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics have recently published a comprehensive and far-reaching series of recommendations that, while not eliminating the infectious disease risks, have nonetheless detailed the major points for concern and have developed a rational approach to minimizing these risks. This report should serve as the blueprint from which to (...) proceed with xenotransplantation. (shrink)