Bio-Anthropology Job Search Lecture

4:00 pm on Tuesday, January 22, 2013
5:30 pm on Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Biology (5 Cummington), BRB 113
Dr. Alexandra Rosati “The ecology and evolution of foraging cognition in chimpanzees, bonobos, and humans” All primates face complex foraging problems where they must identify and locate food resources. However, humans are thought to be uniquely equipped with cognitive skills in the domains of spatial memory and decision-making that allow our species to engage in more flexible foraging behaviours. One way to address this question is to examine foraging cognition in human’s closest living relatives—chimpanzees and bonobos. Current evidence indicates that human and nonhuman apes exhibit similar cognitive abilities across several contexts. However, human cognition is also modulated by currency: Decisions about money are different from decisions about biologically-relevant food rewards. This suggests that our cognitive skills have evolutionary roots extending to the last common ancestor with nonhuman apes, but humans may also have specialized abilities for thinking about novel types of rewards. Dr. Alexandra Rosati is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at Yale University. She received a Ph.D. in Evolutionary Anthropology from Duke University, and a B.A. in Psychology from Harvard University. Her research integrates biological and psychological approaches to examine the evolutionary origins of human cognition. She conducts comparative behavioral studies with primates to examine cognitive abilities across species, with a particular focus on great apes.