HOPE Report No.34, 28th, Nov 2004.

The 5th HOPE lectures by Hauser, Iriki, and Asada included in the Second International Workshop for Young Psychologists on: THE EVOLUTION AND DEVELOPMENT OF COGNITION

Principal Organizers: Prof. Kazuo Fujita and Prof. Shoji Itakura
Location: Clock Tower Memorial Hall, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
Date: 13th-14th of November, 2004
Attendance: Japanese and International students and researchers.

On the 13th of November, there was a session of HOPE in which three plenary speakers talked: Marc Hauser, Atsushi Iriki, and Minoru Asada. Then, the first session of the workshop in the afternoon on the 13th focused on social interaction and intelligence in birds, dogs, capuchin monkeys and chimpanzees. These talks excellently addressed these topics in foraging and sexual contexts and/or in cooperative or dominance situations.

The second session presented a wide variety of topics. For example it included a unique study on the relationship between levels of arousal during sleep in infant chimpanzees and neonatal smiling and sucking behavior. Another study presented data revealing the flaws in the use of drawings by children to report touch in forensic interviews.

The first day of this workshop was concluded in style with a dinner party reception which successfully enabled both Japanese and international students and established researchers to intermingle on an informal basis.The last day of the workshop began with a session dealing with the relationship between intelligence, cognition and perception of physical aspects of the environment, principally focusing on chimpanzees in the wild, as well as great apes, pigeons and human infants in an experimental setting.

Lunch was combined with the poster session. This was a great opportunity for everyone to interact, exchange ideas and discuss the studies presented. The first afternoon session addressed specifically verbal language development and communication in human infants and personality impression formation through non-verbal behavior in adults. These studies utilized a range of new interesting and innovative techniques currently used in some areas of psychology. The last session of the day was concerned mainly with visual categorization in dogs, squirrel monkeys, Japanese macaques, baboons and humans using modern techniques of computer matching to sample tests. The workshop was concluded by a study investigating the factors underlying the occurrence of ground nesting behavior in wild chimpanzees as an environmental or social artifact.

All in all, this workshop was extremely educational since so many different interesting aspects of cognition were addressed in many species and from different perspectives. Numerous fields of research and novel techniques and paradigms were brought together resulting in fruitful discussions and opening the door to potential future international collaborations. The organizers successfully presented the participants with a rich flavor of future directions of the study of the evolution and development of cognition.

reported by By Tatyana Humle and Kathelijne Koops

Marc Hauser, Minoru Asada, and Atsushi Iriki

The 5th HOPE lectures by Hauser, Iriki, and Asada
Included in the 2nd International Workshop for Young Psychologists on:

Principal Organizer: Professor Tetsuro Matsuzawa
Location: Clock Tower Memorial Hall, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
Date: November 13th, from 09:15 to 12:00 AM.
Attendance: Japanese and International students and researchers.

Guest speakers:

Marc HAUSER (Harvard University, USA)
"Evolution of our moral faculty"

Atsushi IRIKI (Tokyo Medical and Dental University & RIKEN, Japan)
"Brain mechanisms of monkey tool-using behaviour".

Minoru ASADA (Osaka University, Japan)
"Cognitive developmental robotics towards understanding of our brain and mind"


The 5th HOPE International lectures brought together three eminent researchers working on different fields, but all looking for a better understanding of human development and evolution.

The first lecture, held by the famous psychologist Marc Hauser, outlined the question of the "Evolution of our moral faculty". After introducing the philosophical concept of morality, he presented a cross-cultural inquiry designed to probe the psychological mechanisms underlying our ethical judgments in every day life. It emerges from this study that the similarities between the moral intuitions of people from all over the world are greater than the differences between them.
Interested in the biological foundation of this kind of judgment, Marc Hauser then addressed the altruistic behaviour of cotton-top tamarins, monkeys in which cooperative breeding has been observed in the wild. He examined whether those primates would collaborate in an "altruism experiment" using a Prisoner's Dilemma-like situation. In these operant experiments, monkeys can retrieve food or provide it to a neighbour by pulling a tool. The central question is whether a subject will provide food to his neighbour even if this sharing did not benefit him. The results showed that tamarins' altruistic response is highly dependent on the reciprocity of his partner. In other words, if an individual enables another one to get food without receiving anything in return, he will stop to be altruistic. This research is greatly contributes to our understanding of how altruism, reciprocity and morality have been formed over evolution.

Professor Atsushi Iriki, a well-known neuroscientist, gave the second lecture concerning the "Brain mechanisms of monkey tool-using behaviour".
His research is based on both behavioural and neurophysiological approaches and aims to understand neural mechanisms underlying tool-using behaviour in macaque monkeys. He has carried out a large set of experiments involving monkeys trained to use rake-shaped tool to reach distant food. A central finding is that, after an extensive use of this tool, this finally becomes an extended part of the body since monkey's mental body image has incorporated the tool in its proper pattern. The neural correlates of this modification of body's dynamic representation consists of new activity patterns in cerebral areas allotted to visual signals and somatosensory integration.
In other experiments, he demonstrated that monkeys can be trained to recognize their image in a video monitor and, in addition, discovered that neurons of prefrontal cortex were also coding video image of the hand as an extension of the body.
In accordance to these findings, professor Iriki exposed interesting advances about mirror-neurons. Those specific kind of neurons found in the premotor cortex, are known to discharge not only when the monkey execute an action but also when he is seeing another monkey doing the same action.
From Iriki's results, it seems that the function of these cells in not nly linked to imitation, but also to vocal communication and abstraction capacity. Thereby, this talk gave an idea of the complexity and sophistication of primates' brain functioning that still remains deeply unknown.

Finally, the renowned Professor Minoru Asada offered an overview of his work on "Cognitive developmental robotics towards understanding of our brain and mind". Professor Asada has been focusing on designing robots that are able to adapt their behaviour through learning based on the interaction with the environment, exactly as humans do. For that purpose, many scope of activities like multiple task accomplishment or cooperation need further developments in robots' technologies. In his talk, Professor Asada chose to illustrate some of the currents areas of research, such as the popular RoboCup competitions, consisting on teams of Aibos, humanoids and minirobots playing football games. It is a huge international challenge to design robots able to move and accomplish goals in dynamic and complex environments.
He also exposed a model inspired from the infant acquisition of phonemes. It consists on a robot that reproduces a similar developmental process since he is able to replicate vowels on the basis of an acoustic interaction with a caregiver. It is made up of an artificial articulatory system deforming a silicon vocal tract connected to an artificial larynx, an extractor of formants, and a self-organizing learning mechanism, which has to match its articulations with the caregiver's vowels. The success of such designs proves how crucial the environment can be, including other agents such as teachers, in the coupling between learning and development capabilities.

It has emerged from these three lectures that the strength and significance of complementary approaches in our comprehension of human cognition has build more and more bridges between gaps. In addition, the amazing findings presented by Hauser, Iriki and Asada have been very inspiring for the new generation of researchers who were participating in the 2nd International Workshop for Young Psychologists.

By Laura Martinez