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Language & Learning Group Seminar: Chimpanzee Communication

12:00 - 13:00, Wed, 13 Jun '18
Location: H0.03 Humanities (capacity 30)

The last Language and Learning Group Seminar of the term will be on Monday 18th June from 12pm-1pm. We have invited Alicia Melis and her postdoc Shona Duguid from the Behavioural Science Group of the Warwick Business School. Alicia investigates the phylogenetic roots and the development of human cooperative and prosocial behavior. We are expecting that this seminar might be of interest to a wider audience and therefore we would like to extend our invitation.

Title: Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) develop a successful communicative strategy to collaborate.

A quick summary: Despite extensive observational and experimental research on chimpanzees’ and other primates’ communicative behaviour, we know almost nothing about their ability to use communication as a means to support collaborative endeavours. The goal of this project is to investigate chimpanzees’ capacity to communicate in order to coordinate two different roles in a collaborative task. In a first study we have found that pairs of chimpanzees can develop a simple but efficient strategy to share information about the location of tools that both required for their respective roles in a collaborative activity. Communicative persistence and elaboration of signals is considered an important indicator of intentionality and cognitive flexibility, since the signaller adapts the communication in an attempt to influence the comprehension state of the recipient or to obtain the desired goal. We are currently investigating chimpanzees’ capacity to come up with novel and more indicative forms of communication to provide unambiguous information to the recipient.

Melis, A. P., Engelmann, J. M. and Warneken, F. (2018) "Correspondence : Chimpanzee helping is real, not a byproduct", Nature Communications, 9, 615.

Contact: Suzanne Aussems

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