Seminar: “Primate Cognition: Flexible, Fallible, and Fascinating” by Michael J. Beran


“Primate Cognition: Flexible, Fallible, and Fascinating”

by Michael J. Beran

 Date: 3 May 2021, Monday
Time: 16:30
Place: Zoom Meeting


After more than two decades of studying the behavior of nonhuman primates three themes stand out and are the focus of this presentation. First, chimpanzees show greater flexibility in their behavior than do monkeys in areas such as information-seeking, confidence monitoring, self-control, and planning for the future. Second, nonhuman primates show successes and failures that match human successes and failures of perception and cognition, but other primates also sometimes fail where humans succeed. Third, these successes and failures in cognition in our closest living relatives are fascinating for what they tell us about the evolution of cognition, and about the nature of being human. I will highlight studies that compare chimpanzees, monkeys, and in some cases human children or adults, and I will discuss in detail those which have best demonstrated these three themes.

About the Speaker:

Michael J. Beran is Professor of Psychology and Co-Director of the Language Research Center at Georgia State University. He earned his B.A. in Psychology from Oglethorpe University in 1997, and his Ph.D. in 2002, from Georgia State University. He has served as the President of the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology, the Southeast Psychological Association, and the Society for Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology (Division 6 of APA). He has published over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and contributed chapters to over 50 edited books and encyclopedia. He also is the co-editor of Foundations of Metacognition (2012, Oxford University Press), the author of Self-control in Animals and People (2018, Elsevier), and the co-editor of the forthcoming Primate Cognitive Studies (2022, Cambridge University Press). He is the current Editor of Animal Behavior and Cognition. His research is conducted with human and nonhuman primates, including chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, orangutans, capuchin monkeys, and rhesus monkeys. He also has collaborated on research with bears, elephants, and robins. His research interests include perception, numerical cognition, metacognition, planning and prospective memory, self-control, and decision making.