Modern humans are often seen as superior to other animals in a wide range of cognitive and behavioral domains. Researchers have adopted comparative approaches to find out which mechanisms underlying human intelligence, social cognition, communication and other complex behaviors are shared with other species. In this course we will look at studies investigating the behavior of non-human animals and the research methods used to understand it. To what extent can we find parallels for complex human behavior in non-human species? What can we learn about human cognition and behavior from the comparative approach? Issues such as the emergence of culture, social imitation, language, domestication and ethics will be addressed using data on various species including birds, primates and dolphins.
We will read and discuss literature on animal cognition and gain hands-on practice with the design and presentation of a scientific poster, which will be displayed at a poster festival in the last week of the course.
Objective: This course will give an overview of the comparative approach towards an understanding of human and non-human cognition.
Examination: Poster presentation, homework assignments, student participation in class
Starting academic year 2017-2018, this course replaces the course "Web Technology".