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Pictorial Primates: A Search for Iconic Abilities in Great Apes

Persson, Tomas LU (2008) In Lund University Cognitive Studies 136.
Abstract
Pictures and other iconic media are used extensively in psychological experiments on nonhuman primate perception, categorisation, etc. They are also used in everyday interaction with primates, and as pure entertainment. But in what ways do primates understand iconic artefacts? What implications do these different ways have for the conclusions we can draw from those studies on perception and categorisation? What can pictures tell us about primate cognition, and what can primates tell us about pictures?



The bulk of the thesis is a critical review of the primatological literature concerned with iconic artefacts. Drawing on work in developmental psychology, cross-cultural research, and semiotics, distinctions between... (More)
Pictures and other iconic media are used extensively in psychological experiments on nonhuman primate perception, categorisation, etc. They are also used in everyday interaction with primates, and as pure entertainment. But in what ways do primates understand iconic artefacts? What implications do these different ways have for the conclusions we can draw from those studies on perception and categorisation? What can pictures tell us about primate cognition, and what can primates tell us about pictures?



The bulk of the thesis is a critical review of the primatological literature concerned with iconic artefacts. Drawing on work in developmental psychology, cross-cultural research, and semiotics, distinctions between different kinds of pictorial competence are made. The alternatives to viewing pictures as depictions, are to view them as the real world is viewed, in which case only realistic pictures evoke recognition, or to view them as a set of disjoint properties, in which case recognition of categorisable motifs fails. It is argued that approaching a picture as a depiction entails a set of expectations on the picture, which affects attention to e.g. part - whole relationships, "filling in," and integration into context. This in turn allows recognition also of non-realistic similarity. The question, then, is whether such expectations can be formed in other brains than an exclusively human one.



The different forms of pictorial competence are discussed in relation to research on similarity judgements, abstraction, and categorisation, as well as applied to other iconic media than the picture, such as scale-models, mirrors, toy replicas, and video.



Two lines of original empirical investigation are presented: A study of photographic recognition in picture-naïve gorillas, and recognition of line drawings in picture-experienced and language-competent bonobos. Only the latter study yielded evidence for recognition. The failures in the former study are discussed in terms of experimental shortcomings, and suggestions for future improvements are made. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Gómez, Juan Carlos, School of Psychology, University of St. Andrews, St. Mary's College, Scotland
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
match-to-sample, comparative cognition, categorization, Pan paniscus, Gorilla gorilla, signs, reference, iconicity, symbols, pictures, primatology, object-choice-task, enculturation
in
Lund University Cognitive Studies
volume
136
pages
316 pages
publisher
Cognitive Science
defense location
Sal 104, Kungshuset, Lundagård, Lund
defense date
2008-02-22 10:15
ISSN
1101-8453
project
Språk, gester och bilder i ett semiotiskt utvecklingsperspektiv
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
1b1ca5da-e576-49aa-9d64-a3bec67f73f4 (old id 938491)
date added to LUP
2008-01-25 13:47:22
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:44:50
@phdthesis{1b1ca5da-e576-49aa-9d64-a3bec67f73f4,
  abstract     = {Pictures and other iconic media are used extensively in psychological experiments on nonhuman primate perception, categorisation, etc. They are also used in everyday interaction with primates, and as pure entertainment. But in what ways do primates understand iconic artefacts? What implications do these different ways have for the conclusions we can draw from those studies on perception and categorisation? What can pictures tell us about primate cognition, and what can primates tell us about pictures?<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The bulk of the thesis is a critical review of the primatological literature concerned with iconic artefacts. Drawing on work in developmental psychology, cross-cultural research, and semiotics, distinctions between different kinds of pictorial competence are made. The alternatives to viewing pictures as depictions, are to view them as the real world is viewed, in which case only realistic pictures evoke recognition, or to view them as a set of disjoint properties, in which case recognition of categorisable motifs fails. It is argued that approaching a picture as a depiction entails a set of expectations on the picture, which affects attention to e.g. part - whole relationships, "filling in," and integration into context. This in turn allows recognition also of non-realistic similarity. The question, then, is whether such expectations can be formed in other brains than an exclusively human one.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The different forms of pictorial competence are discussed in relation to research on similarity judgements, abstraction, and categorisation, as well as applied to other iconic media than the picture, such as scale-models, mirrors, toy replicas, and video.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Two lines of original empirical investigation are presented: A study of photographic recognition in picture-naïve gorillas, and recognition of line drawings in picture-experienced and language-competent bonobos. Only the latter study yielded evidence for recognition. The failures in the former study are discussed in terms of experimental shortcomings, and suggestions for future improvements are made.},
  author       = {Persson, Tomas},
  issn         = {1101-8453},
  keyword      = {match-to-sample,comparative cognition,categorization,Pan paniscus,Gorilla gorilla,signs,reference,iconicity,symbols,pictures,primatology,object-choice-task,enculturation},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {316},
  publisher    = {Cognitive Science},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Lund University Cognitive Studies},
  title        = {Pictorial Primates: A Search for Iconic Abilities in Great Apes},
  volume       = {136},
  year         = {2008},
}