LFE-Colloquium: Dr. Katie Slocombe

Friday, 28th April, 2017 a guest lecture takes place at the LFE as part of the new Research Colloquium. Dr. Katie Slocombe (University Of York, Great Britain) will talk about:

“What can chimpanzees tell us about the evolutionary roots of reference and joint attention?”

Human language is an extremely complex capacity and it is likely that language builds on cognitive capacities which evolved long before humans diverged from the rest of the primates. The comparison of communicative and cognitive capabilities in non-human primates and humans, is a promising approach to further our understanding of which elements of language are phylogenetically old and which are unique to humans. In this talk I will explore the similarities and differences between humans and one of our closest living relatives, the chimpanzee in terms of referential signalling and engaging in joint attention, two pivotal aspects of language. I will present a series of studies focussed on the food-associated calls of chimpanzees that examine the extent to which these functionally referential calls share common features with the referential signals that characterise human language. In particular I will discuss the mechanisms underlying their production and why wild chimpanzees produce these vocalisations and finally whether the structure of these calls can be flexibly modified. I will then outline pilot data and a large scale planned study to examine joint attention skills and events in a directly comparable way in chimpanzee and human mother-infant dyads.

When? Friday, 28th April 2017 | 11:15 a.m. – 00:45 p.m.

Where? “Fürstenzimmer” | Universitätsbibliothek Albertina | Beethovenstraße 6 | 04107 Leipzig

Madlen Bartholmeß
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