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

1.3. Journal club: Rosati et al 2020 summary by Antonio Osuna

8.3. Sarah Marchand Dogs understanding of human false belief in a social game

15.3. Journal club summary by Mélissa Sébilleau 

22.3. Arnaud Bruat Ghost control tests in pigs

12.4. Shereen Chang Factors in referential communication learning

19.4. Maud Steinmann Unwilling or Unable? An investigation of dogs’ intention reading skills.

26.4. Journal club summary by Jennifer Colbourne

3.5. Yuri Kawaguchi, My previous studies and research plan- Dog’s recognition of “age” and the potential effect of domestication on it.

10.5. Mélissa Sébilleau, PhD interim evaluation/TAC talk

17.5. Lucrezia Lonardo Multi-method investigation of pet dogs' social cognition

31.5. tbd

7.6. Lili Suwandschieff Two-action-task in Kea

14.6. Journal club, summary by Ariane Veit

21.6. tbd

28.6. Poppy Lambert Instrumental weighted-object use in the Goffin's cockatoo

31.5. tbd

7.6. Lili Suwandschieff Two-action-task in Kea

14.6. tbd

21.6. tbd

28.6. Poppy Lambert Instrumental weighted-object use in the Goffin's cockatoo