Animal Cognition: Behavioral Studies and Theory Formation

June 28, 2012 - June 30, 2012
Philosophy II, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Ruhr University


Louise Barrett
University of Lethbridge
Tom Beckers
University of Amsterdam
Thomas Bugnyar
University of Vienna
Josep Call
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Julia Fischer
University of Göttingen
Tecumseh Fitch
University of Vienna
Hanjo Glock
University of Zürich
John Greenwood
CUNY Graduate Center


Colin Allen
Indiana University
Cameron Buckner
University of Houston
Onur Güntürken
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Albert Newen
Ruhr-Universität Bochum

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Animal Cognition: Behavioral Studies and Theory Formation

June 28-30, 2012

Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Germany)

The workshop aims to discuss the recent developments in the growing field of investigating the cognitive abilities of animals. We intend to structure the presentations and discussions by focusing on four interconnected key questions: 1. What methodological principles should govern investigation of animal cognition and interpretation of observations of animal behavior? 2. How can recent findings about cognition in corvids and primates be integrated with neuroscientific data on brain evolution into theories of cognitive evolution and views about an anthropological borderline between humans and animals? 3. To what extent can we find symbolic understanding in animals? Since understanding symbolic and a recursive structure is one of the recent candidates for an anthropological borderline, one question for discussion is whether this still marks a clear species difference. 4. Empirical work has steadily accumulated suggesting the paradigm examples of 'merely associative' behaviors have striking ties to attention and central control, leading some to argue that these behaviors are better explained by appeal to cognition. This raises a question: Does a purely associative link-forming mechanism exist at all, or is learning cognitive all the way down in both humans and animals?

The workshop consists of four sections:

1. Methodology and Interpretation of Behavioral Studies (Convener: Prof. Colin Allen, Bloomington)

Keynote Speakers: Prof. Louise Barrett (Lethbridge), Prof. Hanjo Glock (Zürich)


2. Evolution of Brain and Cognition (Convener: Prof. Onur Güntürkün, Bochum)

Keynote Speakers: Prof. Josep Call (Leipzig), Prof. Thomas Bugnyar (Wien)


3. Symbolic Understanding: To what extent can we find symbolic understanding in animals? (Convener: Prof. Albert Newen, Bochum)

Keynote Speakers: Prof. Julia Fischer (Göttingen), Prof. Tecumseh Fitch (Wien)


4. Cognition versus Association: Does “mere association” even exist? Or is it cognition “all the way down”? (Convener: Prof. Cameron Buckner, Houston)

Keynote Speakers: Prof. Tom Beckers (Amsterdam), Prof. John D. Greenwood (New York)

CALL FOR POSTERS and contact, see:  
Deadline for poster submission: 15th of May 2012

Registration (There will be no fees): Please register before 31st of May 2012 by sending an email to:  [email protected]

Scientific Organization:  Prof. Albert Newen (Bochum), Prof. Colin Allen (Bloomington), Prof. Onur Güntürkün (Bochum), Dr. Cameron Buckner (Houston)

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May 31, 2012, 1:00pm CET

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#Animal Minds