Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Inside the head of an ape

19.02.2008
Do apes have imagination? How do they understand pictures? A years-long study of apes performed by cognitive scientist Tomas Persson shows, among other things, that it doesn't take a human brain to understand pictures as being a representation. Persson's dissertation, which is now being submitted at Lund University, is the first one in Sweden to focus entirely on the thinking of apes.

When humans compare a picture with reality, it's often necessary to fill in information that is missing in the picture. For instance, how do we know that a person in a picture is running, as opposed to being frozen in a position?

How do we know that that bright orange thing on Donald Duck is a beak? How do we recognize the motif of pictures we have never seen before? The answer is: we interpret.

Many animals have no trouble recognizing the content of realistic pictures, such as photographs, but can they relate a picture to reality in such a way that they can recognize a drawing? The answer is yes, with reservation.

... more about:
»Lund »Persson »Reality »ape »understand

This is shown by Tomas Persson in his dissertation Pictorial Primates - A Search for Iconic Abilities in Great Apes, which will be publicly defended on February 22.

A review of previous research shows that there are many ways for animals to understand the relation between a picture and reality, but it is only the special case when they understand that the picture represents reality that the picture is being interpreted by being placed it in its proper context and having the missing information filled in.

The conclusion from Tomas Persson's many years of studying gorillas at Givskud Zoo in Denmark is that it is not easy to teach an ape to relate a picture to reality.

"However, it is unclear whether this is a matter of the training method or the capacity of the apes," says Tomas Persson.

This is because he also found that language-trained bonobos at Great Ape Trust of Iowa in the U.S. can readily name simple non-realistic images that they have never seen before.

"This is the most promising evidence yet that you don't have to have a human brain to understand pictures as representations. But many studies remain to be done before we will know the extent of this ability in apes. A further question for the future is whether the language training the bonobos have had is the direct reason behind their ability to understand images," says Tomas Persson.

Research on the thinking of apes, which is an expanding field internationally, will be placed on a new footing in Sweden as well, with the research station that cognitive scientists from Lund University are helping establish at Furuvik Zoo in Gävle, Sweden. Since humans share ancestors with today's great apes, this research is important not only for our understanding of cognition as a general biological phenomenon but also for our understanding of the evolution of human thinking. Tomas Persson's dissertation is hopefully only the first in a long series on this theme in Swedish research.

Tomas Persson will publicly defend his thesis Pictorial Primates-A Search for Iconic Abilities in Great Apes on February 22, at 10:15 a.m. at Kungshuset Hall 104, Lundagård, Lund.

For more information: Tomas Persson: Tomas.Persson@lucs.lu.se / phone: 46+ (0)46-222 85 88; cell phone: +46 (0)73-6946085; Cognition Science: www.lucs.lu.se
Great Ape Trust of Iowa: http://www.greatapetrust.org/
Givskud Zoo: http://www.givskudzoo.dk/
Furuvik Zoo: http://www.furuvik.se/
Research director at the Lund University Primate Research Station at Furuvik: Mathias.Osvath@lucs.lu.se; phone: +46 (0)46-222 40 45

Anna Johansson | idw
Further information:
http://www.lucs.lu.se
http://www.vr.se

Further reports about: Lund Persson Reality ape understand

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht One step closer to reality
20.04.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Entwicklungsbiologie

nachricht The dark side of cichlid fish: from cannibal to caregiver
20.04.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>