Comparative Cognition

The ultimate goal of the unit is laying the natural science foundation for animal welfare and human-animal relationships. Its main area of research is comparative cognition, a new discipline at the interface of biology and psychology, which aims at fostering empirical knowledge on cognitive, emotional and social skills in animals. Its underlying motivation is to change not only the general perception of animals but also the way we, humans, define ourselves. Ultimately, this will bring new insights into the fundamental characteristics of human-animal interactions and contribute to a better understanding of such relationships.

We address these questions from a comparative and integrative point of view. Cognitive abilities are not unique characteristics of humans but occur in many animals. To understand the various processes, their functions in the animals' lives, their evolutionary developing and their problem-solving competence, we don't restrict ourselves to a few model systems but examine various species, especially canines (dogs and wolves), farm animals (pig, horse, pigeon, chicken) and wildlife (kea, Goffin cockatoo, poison frog). As we consider cognition as a complex biological phenomenon, we combine different biological and psychological methods and approaches and integrate studies on different levels of complexity (genetic, neuronal, individual, social, cultural level). Standing in the tradition of classical ethology we aim to integrate the four questions of Tinbergen in order to completely understand the animal and its cognitive and emotional possibilities and limits. For this purpose, we combine studies in natural and semi-natural environments. We examine animals when they solve specific tasks that are orientated on the species’ natural problems. A non-invasive approach is essential.

Clever Dog Lab
Kea Lab
Clever Pig Lab
Frog Lab
Goffin Lab
Wolf Science Center

Seminar and Journal Club Comparative Cognition

Monday, 9:15 Blackboard Collaborate (if not announced differently)

Link to printable version 7​​​​​​​

2.11. Journal club, summary by Poppy Lambert

9.11. Christiana TsiourtiDog-Artificial Agent Interaction

16.11. Diana Petri, Time perception in dogs

23.11. Elisabeth Suwandschieff, Motor imitation in Kea

30.11. Denise KubalaOverimitation & Relationship: Is the tendency to overimitate dependent on the type of relationship between dog and human?

7.12. Antonio Osuna Mascaró, Composite tool use in Goffin's cockatoos, Golf Club experimental results.

14.12. Lucrezia Lonardo1st evaluation talk: false belief understanding in pet dogs

11.1. Jennifer Colbourne, Tool crafting in cockatoos project proposal

18.1. Melissa SébilleauPhylogenetic analysis of parrot calls

25.1. Journal club: Völter et al 2020, summary by Sabrina Karl

1.2. Kristina Anderle, Jealousy in dogs?

15.2. Ariane Veit, Can pigs learn from human demonstrators and how?