Learning outcomes of the course unit
Students will have to:
1. Achieve a knowledge of the main issues in Cognitive Ethology.
2. Develop a critical approach regarding methods and data interpretations during the reading of scientific articles.
3. Communicate results regarding analysis of articles addressing animal and human behaviors
Basic knowledge of Biology, genetics and Neuroscience
Course contents summary
This module is part of an integrated course and is preceded by the two modules on Classic Ethology and Biology of Behavior. Students will have acquired the basic principles of the ethological approach, both from a conceptual and methodological perspective. This module will provide an advanced introduction to research concerning cognitive processes in animals, and to topics related to key mental processes, such as empathy, social learning, tool use, theory of mind, cooperation and imitation. The first part of the course will be a brief introduction to the issues related to cognitive processes in animals, with a brief review of some scientific topics most relevant for ethologists and psychologists. In the second part of the coursestudents will receive scientific articles to read that will be presented and critically discusses in the class. Particular attention will be given to studies on nonhuman primates cognitive capacities.
1. Theories regarding phisical and social cognition in primates.
2. Interaction with the physical world. Object, space and casual relations. Numerical and abstract representations. Tool use.
3. Social Interactions. Cognitive and social development.
4. EMpathy and 'social politics' in nonhuman primates. Culture and social transmission of knowlesge
1. Animal Behaviour - A. Manning & M.S. Dawkins. Cambridge University Press
2. Primate Psychology. Dario Maestripieri. Harvard University Press
In addition to lectures, each student will read one scientific article that will be discussed in the class through a powerpoint presentation
Assessment methods and criteria
The exam will consist in: a) a written part to verify the acquisition of the concepts and notions addressed during the lectures. B) an oral discussion concerning the main topics and the article assigned during the course