Speaker: Dr Francesca de Petrillo
Understanding why differences in cognitive capacities emerge is one of the most fundamental questions about the origins of intelligence, including for our own species.
Many views on the evolution of cognition have emphasized that socioecology may play an important role in shaping cognitive abilities.
Malagasy lemurs represent an important model for testing these hypotheses on cognitive evolution because they exhibit high levels of diversity in evolutionarily-relevant characteristics such as social system, ecology, and activity patterns.
Dr Francesca de Petrillo will present two studies investigating inferential reasoning and executive functions abilities, i.e. a diverse set of cognitive abilities dedicated to the monitoring and control of thoughts and actions, in four different lemurs’ species (ruffed lemurs, Coquerel’s sifakas, ring-tailed lemurs and mongoose lemurs), that vary in their wild socio-ecology. Results indicate that sifaka, the only folivorous species, consistently showed the lower performance across tasks compared to the most frugivorous species.
Together, these results highlight the importance of examining both ecological and social factors to understand the evolution of primate intelligence.
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