International Cognitive Neuroscience Meeting in Turkey
Dr Ipek Kulahci recently gave two talks at the International Cognitive Neuroscience Meeting in Turkey entitled “Animal Cognition and Insights from Ethology” and “Social interactions predict patterns of communication and learning.” Ipek’s talks are summarised below:
Animal cognition and insights from ethology
“In this talk, I outlined some of the groundbreaking discoveries that we have made in our understanding of animal cognition. An ethological approach, in which ecologically relevant observational and experimental techniques are utilized to design species-specific studies, is essential in uncovering the diversity and the extent of animals’ cognitive abilities. By designing careful experiments, multiple studies have shown that animals possess several cognitive abilities that we had initially thought to be unique to humans. Some examples include, but are not limited to, planning, tool use, abstract logic, social learning, and an understanding of concepts. Demonstration of these cognitive abilities in animals has far-reaching implications for animal rights, welfare, and conservation.”
Social interactions predict patterns of communication and learning
“Animals are highly selective in their social interactions. This selectivity has consequences for multiple aspects of cognition including individual recognition, communication, and learning. For example, many social learning studies rely on the assumption that social bonds between conspecifics determine who attends to whose behavior when faced with novel information. However, robust empirical evidence demonstrating positive relationships between social bonds, attention and social learning is lacking.
In this talk, I described my PhD research on ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) and common ravens (Corvus corax) to demonstrate that selective social interactions drive selective communication, attention and social learning. I shared some results which show that affiliative social behaviors, such as grooming interactions, play a major role in vocal communication and information transmission between conspecifics. These results suggest that detailed knowledge of social interactions is critical for predicting the patterns of communication and learning in animal groups.”