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LFE Colloquium talk by Dr. Annie Wertz (Max Planck Institute for Human Development)



On Monday, June 11, 2018, a new Research Colloquium takes place at the LFE.
Dr. Annie Wertz (Research Group Naturalistic Social Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Human Development) will give a talk.

The presentation is entitled: “The evolution of social learning mechanisms for the botanical world”

Plants have been central to human life across evolutionary time as sources of food and raw materials for a variety of uses (e.g., artifact construction). However, plants also manufacture potentially dangerous chemical and physical defenses to protect themselves from herbivores. These circumstances create a fundamental problem: How does each individual human learn which plants in her local environment are food and which plants are fatal? Because there are no morphological features of plants that reliably predict human-relevant edibility or toxicity, employing a trial-and-error strategy to learn about the specific plants in an environment would be extremely costly. Instead, I argue that human cognitive architecture contains social learning mechanisms specialized for acquiring information about plants over the course of ontogeny. I will present evidence from a series of studies with human infants exploring this proposal. The results indicate that infants possess a combination of behavioral avoidance and social information seeking strategies that allow them to safely learn about plants from more knowledgeable others. These findings have broader implications for the evolution of social learning mechanisms and the intergenerational transmission of human culture.

When? Monday, June 11, 2018 | 01.15 pm – 03:15 pm

Where? Leipzig University, Marschnerstraße 31, House 3, Room 301 („Turmzimmer”), D-04109 Leipzig

Madlen Bartholmeß
Phone +49 (0) 341 97 31 870