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Planning Primates - A search for episodic foresight

Osvath, Mathias LU (2010) In Lund University Cognitive Studies 148.
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Förmågan att planera med en medveten mental simulering har ansetts vara unikt mänsklig sedan Aristoteles. När människor planerar för psykologiska eller fysiologiska driftstillstånd som de för närvarande inte upplever, tror man att de använder sig av så kallad episodisk framförhållning. Den episodiska framförhållningen är en del av det större episodiska kognitiva systemet som också inkluderar episodiskt minne. Det episodiska systemet definieras av en särskild forma av medvetande som kallas det autonoetiska medvetenandet. Detta medvetande är det som gör det möjligt för oss att föreställa oss sinnesintryck; vi kan stänga ögonen och se situationer framför oss som vi tidigare upplevt eller som vi tror... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Förmågan att planera med en medveten mental simulering har ansetts vara unikt mänsklig sedan Aristoteles. När människor planerar för psykologiska eller fysiologiska driftstillstånd som de för närvarande inte upplever, tror man att de använder sig av så kallad episodisk framförhållning. Den episodiska framförhållningen är en del av det större episodiska kognitiva systemet som också inkluderar episodiskt minne. Det episodiska systemet definieras av en särskild forma av medvetande som kallas det autonoetiska medvetenandet. Detta medvetande är det som gör det möjligt för oss att föreställa oss sinnesintryck; vi kan stänga ögonen och se situationer framför oss som vi tidigare upplevt eller som vi tror vi kommer att uppleva. Med andra ord låter det episodiska systemet oss att åter- eller för-uppleva situationer. Människor som saknar det episodiska systemet, oftast till följd av mycket specifika hjärnskador, saknar helt förmågan att minnas personligt upplevda händelser, liksom de saknar förmågan att föreställa sig framtida situationer i vilka de personligen deltar. Det episodiska systemet utvecklas sent hos barn; vid tre till fem års ålder.



Att konstatera episodisk framförhållning hos icke-lingvistiska varelser är svårt. Dock finns det en del beteendekriteria som anger vad en sådan varelse borde kunna prestera om den har ett episodiskt system. Denna avhandling innehåller tre empiriska studier på schimpanser och orangutanger som alla visar att aporna har episodisk framförhållning. Avhandligen innehåller också ett kapitel om spekulationer kring hur den episodiska framförhållningen kan ha faciliterat evolutionen av språket hos människan. (Less)
Abstract
The ability to plan for future, not currently experienced, mental or physiological states has been regarded as unique to humans. When humans plan for such states it has been hypothesized that they make use of what has been known as episodic foresight. Episodic foresight is a part of the episodic cognitive system, which also includes episodic memory. The defining feature of this system is so-called autonoetic consciousness, which enables a phenomenal, first-person view on events that have happened or might happen. Autonoetic consciousness is constituted by sensorial simulations detached from current sensorial inputs; therefore, the episodic system provides humans with an "inner" sense, making it possible to mentally re- or pre-experience... (More)
The ability to plan for future, not currently experienced, mental or physiological states has been regarded as unique to humans. When humans plan for such states it has been hypothesized that they make use of what has been known as episodic foresight. Episodic foresight is a part of the episodic cognitive system, which also includes episodic memory. The defining feature of this system is so-called autonoetic consciousness, which enables a phenomenal, first-person view on events that have happened or might happen. Autonoetic consciousness is constituted by sensorial simulations detached from current sensorial inputs; therefore, the episodic system provides humans with an "inner" sense, making it possible to mentally re- or pre-experience events. Humans who lack this ability (e.g., due to specific brain traumas) cannot remember any personla events, and similarly cannot plan for any future events involving their own person. The episodic system develops late in humans, around the age of three to five years. It is a non-trivial task to detect episodic foresight in non-linguistic creatures. However there exist a few behavioural criteria on what a non-linguistic episodic planner should be able to perform. This thesis includes three empirical studies on foresight in chimpanzees and orangutans. The first is an experimental study performed on both species in a series of four experiments. Its basic aim was to test the subject's ability to exercise self-control in the face of future tool use, and to investigate whether chimpanzees and orangutans are able to select unfamiliar tools for a familiar future task. Self-control is essential for planning, and arguably its essential for episodic planning. The ability to integrate novel features into a foresight is a strong indicator of episodic abilities. The study results are positive in favour of episodic foresights in apes. The second is a pilot study on one orangutan's ability to plan for a future physiological state that currently is satisfied. Again the results are positive. The third is an observational study on one chimpanzee. The results suggest that chimpanzees are capable of calmly planning for an event in which they will become agitated; further that they are able to manufacture tools for use in that future event. The question of episodic foresight in comparative cognition is highly contested. Therefore the thesis also includes two papers that respond to some of the criticisms. The final paper in the thesis speculates how episodic foresight might have influenced the evolution of language in humans, based on archaeological and paleoanthropological findings as interpreted from a cognitive view point. Its conclusion is that symbolic communication might have evolved as early as 2.6 million years ago in the so-called Oldowan culture. (Less)
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author
supervisor
opponent
  • Dr Bugnyar, Thomas, Universität Wien, Österrike
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
language evolution, planning, the Bischof-Köhler hypothesis, comparative episodic foresight, episodic system, autonoetic consciousness, orangutans, chimpanzees
in
Lund University Cognitive Studies
volume
148
pages
174 pages
defense location
Sal 104, Kungshuset, Lundagård, Lund
defense date
2010-05-05 10:00
ISSN
1101-8453
ISBN
978-91-977-380-8-8
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
2bc64f07-e092-4823-8b78-930df136fbbf (old id 1581120)
date added to LUP
2010-03-31 11:48:37
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:44:59
@phdthesis{2bc64f07-e092-4823-8b78-930df136fbbf,
  abstract     = {The ability to plan for future, not currently experienced, mental or physiological states has been regarded as unique to humans. When humans plan for such states it has been hypothesized that they make use of what has been known as episodic foresight. Episodic foresight is a part of the episodic cognitive system, which also includes episodic memory. The defining feature of this system is so-called autonoetic consciousness, which enables a phenomenal, first-person view on events that have happened or might happen. Autonoetic consciousness is constituted by sensorial simulations detached from current sensorial inputs; therefore, the episodic system provides humans with an "inner" sense, making it possible to mentally re- or pre-experience events. Humans who lack this ability (e.g., due to specific brain traumas) cannot remember any personla events, and similarly cannot plan for any future events involving their own person. The episodic system develops late in humans, around the age of three to five years. It is a non-trivial task to detect episodic foresight in non-linguistic creatures. However there exist a few behavioural criteria on what a non-linguistic episodic planner should be able to perform. This thesis includes three empirical studies on foresight in chimpanzees and orangutans. The first is an experimental study performed on both species in a series of four experiments. Its basic aim was to test the subject's ability to exercise self-control in the face of future tool use, and to investigate whether chimpanzees and orangutans are able to select unfamiliar tools for a familiar future task. Self-control is essential for planning, and arguably its essential for episodic planning. The ability to integrate novel features into a foresight is a strong indicator of episodic abilities. The study results are positive in favour of episodic foresights in apes. The second is a pilot study on one orangutan's ability to plan for a future physiological state that currently is satisfied. Again the results are positive. The third is an observational study on one chimpanzee. The results suggest that chimpanzees are capable of calmly planning for an event in which they will become agitated; further that they are able to manufacture tools for use in that future event. The question of episodic foresight in comparative cognition is highly contested. Therefore the thesis also includes two papers that respond to some of the criticisms. The final paper in the thesis speculates how episodic foresight might have influenced the evolution of language in humans, based on archaeological and paleoanthropological findings as interpreted from a cognitive view point. Its conclusion is that symbolic communication might have evolved as early as 2.6 million years ago in the so-called Oldowan culture.},
  author       = {Osvath, Mathias},
  isbn         = {978-91-977-380-8-8},
  issn         = {1101-8453},
  keyword      = {language evolution,planning,the Bischof-Köhler hypothesis,comparative episodic foresight,episodic system,autonoetic consciousness,orangutans,chimpanzees},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {174},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Lund University Cognitive Studies},
  title        = {Planning Primates - A search for episodic foresight},
  volume       = {148},
  year         = {2010},
}