Sunday Dec 11 2005 8 am - 6 pm
Organizers: Dr. Christine Johnson & Dr. Denise Herzing
Title: Comparative Cognition: Insights and Innovations
Organizers: Dr. Christine Johnson*, Dr. Denise Herzing**
Format: Presentations, Panel Discussion, and Questions
Topics and Schedule
8:30 Overview: Goals and Definitions Organizers
9:00 Social Cognition: Experimental Approaches
9:00 Stan Kuczaj Imitation in Primates & Cetaceans
9:30 M. Rosalyn Karin D Arcy Social Attention in Primates
10:00 Adam Pack Social Attention in Primates & Cetaceans
10:30 Volker Deecke Social Complexity: Harbor Seals and Orcas
11:00 Lori Marino Mirrors and Other Measures of the Self
Discussion (Audience Participation)
11:30 Experimental Social Cognition: Species Specific Solutions
12:00 Lunch Break
13:30 Cognition in the Wild: Observational Approaches
13:30 Deborah Forster Distributed Cognition in Baboons
14:00 Christine Johnson Social Attention in Bonobos & Belugas
14:30 Anne Russon Orangutan and Palms: Development of a Problem Space
15:00 Denise Herzing Social Envelopes of Information in Dolphins
Discussion (Audience Participation)
15:30 Theoretical Models and Practical Constraints
16:00 Short Break
16:15 Panel of Speakers: New Frameworks and Techniques
16:15 Brief remarks on new tools, approaches, challenges, etc.
16:45 Open Discussion (Audience Participation)
17:30 Conclusions and Future Options
Department of Cognitive Science, UCSD, La Jolla CA 92093 0515 email@example.com
** Dept of Biological and Psychological Sciences, 777 Glades Rd.,
Florida Atlantic Univ, Boca Raton Fl 33431 firstname.lastname@example.org
Comparative Cognition: Insights and Innovations
Christine M. Johnson & Denise Herzing
The goal of this workshop is to bring together researchers engaged in the study of cognition in primates and cetaceans. Both of these taxa are renown for their complex social structures, large brains, and high intelligence. However, for a variety of historical and practical reasons, primate cognition has been the subject of systematic study for longer and in greater depth. As a result, those of us concerned with the study of cognition in marine mammals can benefit from a better understanding of the theories and methods that have been tried and tested with primates. At the same time, however, given the significant differences between these taxa, in sensory motor capacities, environmental settings, fieldwork constraints, etc. it also behooves us to carefully consider the ecological validity of whatever methods we choose to adopt. Thus, in this workshop, we aim to provide both a forum for presenting summary overviews and illustrative examples of cognitive research conducted with both primates and cetaceans, as well as for the active discussion of theoretical and technological innovations that may enable us to further develop species appropriate approaches.
The term cognition can, of course, be applied to a wide array of topics, including perceptual abilities, problem solving, learning, conceptualization, brain function, etc. While recognizing this diversity, we have chosen to focus on a few sub areas which have recently been receiving special attention in the field of comparative cognition. These sub areas are concerned with the real world challenges faced by these animals and to which they have, presumably, been specialized, though evolution, to adapt. Furthermore, we are particularly concerned with those adaptations that appear to be shared by both taxa. Thus, the main areas on which the talks in this workshop will focus are the cognitive processes involved in foraging, and in social negotiation. The latter will constitute the main focus of interest, in part because it probably represents the primary area of overlap in these two groups. Plus, in appreciation of the link between social and cognitive complexity, and the related implications for human cognitive evolution, this area has become a particularly hot topic in contemporary cognitive research.
In addition to our focus on social ecological problem solving, we have also organized this workshop according to two distinct, but complementary, methodological approaches, observation and experimentation. While both these approaches have long standing traditions, and have contributed much to our understanding of animal behavior and cognition, we will be particularly interested in recent developments in how these approaches are applied and in the topics they are used to address. Since these developments involve some re structuring of traditional operating assumptions, and some controversial interpretation criteria, we hope that they will provoke lively discussion and inspire innovative adaptations for further work with marine mammals.
PART I: Social Cognition: Experimental Approaches
The methodology of interest in the morning session will be experimental. While this approach has, of course, a long history in both primate and cetacean research, we will narrow our focus somewhat to address the issues that have recently garnered a great deal of attention in the field, those concerned with social cognition. Given that the principal parallel between primates and cetaceans is their common adaptation to the demands of social complexity, we will be interested in comparing the various experimental approaches that have been adopted to address the complex cognition required. While the primary focus of much of this work has been on issues concerning social attention (e.g. perspective taking, imitation, etc.) other related approaches, and some discussion of the implication for how mind is portrayed will also be included.
Speaker: Stan Kuczaj (Department of Psychology, University of Southern Mississippi) Dr. Kuczaj is an award winning comparative researcher interested in developmental issues in young children and marine mammals. His current work focuses on problem solving and on the ontogeny and organization of social behavior, including communication.
Topic: An overview on past and current experimental work on imitation in primates and dolphins, with some discussion of the range of possible cognitive mechanisms that may be involved, and the implications for the ontogeny and phylogeny of symbolic representation.
Speaker: M. Rosalyn Karin D Arcy (Institute of Cognitive Science, University of Louisiana at Lafayatte) As a part of the Cognitive Evolution Group, Rosie Karin D Arcy has been working with Dr. Daniel Povinelli doing experimental research on social attention in chimpanzees, and has a long-standing interest in animal behavior and cognition.
Topic: An overview of the contemporary research being conducted on social attention in primates, including recent work on gaze following, use of visual perspective cues for predicting the behavior of others, and on the deceptive exploitation of such cues.
Speaker: Adam Pack (Dept of Psychology, University of Hawaii) Dr. Pack has long served as the Assistant Director of the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory, and has a broad background in experimental work on dolphins, including studies on symbol and gesture comprehension as well as sensory abilities.
Topic: An overview of the cutting edge research being conducted on social attention in primates and dolphins including recent work on pointing, gaze following, use of visual perspective cues for predicting the behavior of others, and on the deceptive exploitation of such cues.
Speaker: Volker Deecke (Marine Mammal Research Unit, Univ British Columbia) Dr. Deecke has been involved in acoustic analysis, neural networks, and playback experiments in the wild involving the perception of predators by marine mammal prey.
Topic: The nature of social complexity in marine mammals, and an overview of experiments, conducted in the field, using playbacks of animal vocalizations regarding the recognition of predator type and to and understanding the social knowledge and recognition by prey.
Speaker: Lori Marino (Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology, Emory University) Dr. Marino has a long standing interest in comparative (primate/dolphin) issues, and has conducted research on, among other things, comparative brain size and mirror self recognition.
Topic: Research on mirror self recognition in both primates and cetaceans, its implications for social cognition, a discussion of ecological validity, and other potential comparative measures.
Given the contemporary nature of this work and the many provocative issues that it raises, we hope that the audience will be eager for a chance to discuss these findings and ideas. Thus, we will open the floor to questions and discussion, which we hope will continue even after we adjourn for lunch.
PART II: Cognition in the Wild: Observational Approaches
In the second half of the day we will look at new work being done in situ that is, cognitive research that takes as its primary data videotapes of individuals interacting with one another, and with objects and other entities, in their natural environments. Based on situated work developed with humans (in the workplace, in schools, in conversation, etc.), cognition in this view is seen as a distributed phenomenon, i.e. occurring not just within an individual mind, but also between individuals. As such, cognition is viewed as the (largely observable) flow of information through a system. Employing Micro Ethology, the detailed analysis of behavior in context research in this area aims to identify the media of this information flow, including embodied actions such as gesture, vocalization, indicators of attention such as head orientation and gaze, etc. Such an approach has distinct advantages for the study of cognition in nonhumans because it does not rely on language based processes and can make significant progress without having to postulate invisible mental events that may or may not be going on inside the animals heads. The speakers we hope to invite for this section have either already made forays into this burgeoning field or will offer suggestions, based on what we know of social communication in our subjects, of how this approach may be further developed.
Below is a tentative list of the speakers we would consider inviting for this section of the workshop, and the topics we envision as the focus of their talks:
Speaker: Deborah Forster (Dept of Cognitive Science, UC San Diego): Deborah Forster has studied baboon behavior in Kenya for many years, with a focus on sexual consorts and other social dynamics as examples of distributed cognition. She has also been contributing an ethnographic perspective to a global research effort, in partnership with Nissan, by pursuing cognition and meaning making in human drivers to inform the design of future smart car technologies.
Topic: A distributed account of observable cognition in wild baboons, using ethnographic data that combines long term, on site sampling with the micro analyses of particular interactions.
Speaker: Christine M. Johnson (Department of Cognitive Science, UC San Diego). One of the co organizers of this workshop, Dr. Johnson has done fieldwork with cetaceans, experimental research with various marine mammals, and for the last several years has been studying social cognition in bonobos at the San Diego Zoo.
Topic: The use of micro ethology to study the role of attention in mediating social interactions, focusing on the media of gaze and relative head orientation in bonobos, and head orientation and echolocation in belugas.
Speaker: Anne Russon (Dept of Psychology, York University): Author/Editor of multiple books on the evolution of intelligence, Dr. Russon has done fascinating work studying primate behavior and cognition in the field, primarily with Orangutans in Indonesia.
Topic: Insights to be gained from the micro analysis of complex food processing tasks, and how seeing the developing relationship between the orangutan (e.g. as it grows) and the palm tree on which it feeds as, together, constituting a changing problem set restructures what we take as the cognitive problem being faced and the solutions that emerge.
Speaker: Denise Herzing (Dept of Biological Sciences & Psychology, Florida Atlantic University): Also a co organizer of this workshop, Dr. Herzing has worked for over twenty years studying spotted dolphins in the field and is Research Director of the Wild Dolphin Project. As such, she has had the rare opportunity to observe, in the clear Bahamian waters, the details of social interaction in those animals.
Topic: The social/sensory envelope of dolphin society will be addressed in specific behavioral and developmental contexts, and the complexities of these real world problems and the potential social learning mechanisms they entail will be discussed.
Given the novelty of the above described approaches, and the many challenges faced by researchers interested in implementing them in the difficult aquatic environment, it seems there will be much to discuss about their requirements, advantages, and feasibility. We will begin this discussion with a brief (20 min) question period during which we hope that the audience will ask for clarification, expansion, etc. of, especially, the afternoon talks.
Following a short break, we will then convene a panel of discussants, made up of all the days speakers, who may begin by each making some brief remarks on topics of their choice, especially on issues raised during the days talks and discussions. We anticipate that these might include anything from concerns about the ecological validity of applying primate developed methods to the study of cetacean cognition, to discussions of the evolutionary implications of both the parallels and the contrasts we see between these taxa, to suggestions for new hardware and software solutions to addressing problems of studying social and other types cognition in marine mammals. From there, we will again open the floor to general discussion. Finally, the organizers will make some closing remarks in an attempt to summarize the principal issues discussed and perhaps even forecast the directions that this work may take in the future.