Moving our message beyond the academy: the significance of understanding
chimpanzee cognition and its role in conservation.
Sarah T. Boysen, Valerie A. Kuhlmeier & Karen I. Hallberg. The Comparative
Cognition Project, Dept. of Psychology, The Ohio State University Chimpanzee Center,
Columbus, OH 43210.
Recent studies of chimpanzee cognitive skills continue to
offer new insights and greater depth toward our understanding of their shared evolutionary
history with humans. Investigations of several representational systems have been explored
in our laboratory with a group of now highly test-sophisticated adult chimpanzee subjects,
including studies of number concepts and counting, comprehension of scale models, concept
formation, and most recently, categorization and discrimination of chimpanzee food bark
vocalizations. Results of these experiments will be presented, and the relevance of
experimental studies of chimpanzee cognitive capacities toward increasing awareness of
such potential among our scientific colleagues and the lay communities will be
highlighted. The significance of current and future evidence for chimpanzee cognitive
abilities and the potential role that such understanding can contribute towards helping
avert the current crisis for wild and captive populations of all great apes will require
immediate and emphatic communication beyond the primatology community.