Edinburgh Psychology Keynote Talk

Speaker: Professor Josep Call (Department of Psychology, University of St Andrews)

Title: "Computer: Resume program". How chimpanzees navigate virtual space

Abstract: Navigation is one of the most fundamental cognitive abilities in animals, and often one of the hardest to study in species travelling long distances. Technological advances like GPS have allowed scientists to get an unprecedented level of information about how individuals and groups move in space. I will present a new technological breakthrough designed to investigate chimpanzee and bonobo navigation in the laboratory using virtual environments presented on a touch sensitive screen. Our goal in this project is twofold. First, we want to investigate whether chimpanzees navigate virtual environments using similar strategies to those documented while they forage in the wild. For instance, do they remember the location of multiple food caches, use landmarks to go from one location to another, or are they capable of taking shortcuts? Second, we want to know to what extent apes connect the virtual and the real worlds. In other words, do they perceive (at some level) the correspondence between the events that they witness on the screen and what takes place in the real world?

Bio: Josep Call is a comparative psychologist specializing in primate cognition, Professor in the Evolutionary Origins of Mind at the University of St Andrews and Director of the Budongo Research Unit at Edinburgh Zoo.

He received his BA (1990) from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and MA (1995) and PhD (1997) from Emory University (USA). From 1997 to 1999 he was a lecturer at the School of Biological Sciences from the University of Liverpool. In 1999 he moved to the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig (Germany) where he was a senior scientist until 2013 and director (and co-founder) of the Wolfgang Köhler Primate Research Center in Leipzig Zoo.

His research focuses on elucidating the cognitive processes underlying technical and social problem solving in primates and other animals with the ultimate goal of reconstructing the evolution of human and nonhuman cognition. He has published five books and more than 300 articles and book chapters on the behaviour and cognition of the great apes and other animals. He has been awarded the Irvine Memorial Medal and the Sheth Distinguished International Alumni Award, and been elected a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Cognitive Science Society, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh (CorrFRSE).


Dr Richard Shillcock

Mar 22 2019 -

Edinburgh Psychology Keynote Talk

2019-03-22: "Computer: Resume program". How chimpanzees navigate virtual space

Lecture Theatre F21, Psychology Building, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ