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Burkart

Fakultäten » Mathematisch-naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät » Anthropologisches Institut und Museum » PD Dr. Judith M. Burkart » Burkart

Completed research project

Title / Titel Did cooperative breeding shape our minds?
Comparative tests with nonhuman primates
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Summary / Zusammenfassung Cooperative breeding refers to a breeding system in which individuals other than parents provide additional care for offspring. According to the Cooperative Breeding Hypothesis (Hrdy 1999, 2009), the adoption of such a breeding system played a crucial role during human evolution and can account for many of our species-specific demographic and life-history traits, and with them our ability to move into new habitats and our subsequent worldwide geographic distribution. The cognitive dimension of this hypothesis has received less attention so far, and our project aims at elaborating the impact of cooperative breeding on the human mind.
While cooperative breeding per se does not require advanced cognitive abilities, it might bring about motivational and emotional changes in the group members, which indirectly strengthen cognitive performance. If comparative evidence reveals a consistent pattern of psychological, i.e. emotional/motivational and cognitive, consequences in a wide range of cooperatively breeding primates and other mammals, one can reasonably expect that engaging in cooperative breeding in the human lineage was accompanied by the same consequences. Thus, a necessary prerequisite for evaluating the explanatory power of the Cooperative Breeding Hypothesis for human cognitive evolution is the assessment of potential psychological consequences of cooperative breeding in nonhuman primates and other mammals.
Available evidence suggests that in nonhuman primates and other mammals, cooperative breeding is associated with emotional/motivational predispositions, such as increased social tolerance, attentional biases towards conspecifics and spontaneous prosociality. The latter issue is of particular relevance because spontaneous prosociality is a key ingredient of uniquely human cognition. However, these effects have never been assessed systematically and quantitatively in a wide range of species that vary in the extent of allomaternal care. Rather, these impressions are based on differences in natural history, or based on experiments of limited comparability because different species have been tested with different methods.
In subproject A, we assess the potential motivational/ emotional consequences of cooperative breeding. We have developed and pilot-tested a new experimental paradigm that can yield directly comparable data on social tolerance and spontaneous prosociality for a broad array of species with minimal experimental manipulation of the subjects. We will first assess the relationship between cooperative breeding and these motivational/emotional traits in primates; we will then extend our approach to other radiations, in particular social carnivores.
In subproject B, we assess the potential cognitive consequences of cooperative breeding, particularly with regard to the attentional structure and performance in cognitive tasks. A stringent test consists in comparing cognitive performance of cooperatively breeding primates with that of their closest independently breeding sister taxon, namely the cooperatively breeding common marmosets with the independently breeding squirrel monkey. We aim to do so using exactly the same experimental paradigms in the same laboratory with identical protocols and experimenters, in order to provide directly comparable data. Once the relevant domains in which differences become apparent have been established, we will develop a test battery that can be applied to a whole array of primate and nonprimate mammals that vary with regard to their breeding system. Furthermore, in the common marmosets, for which data on social tolerance and prosociality will be available from subproject A, we will explore whether the predicted causal links between emotional/motivational consequences and cognitive performance in specific domains are actually found empirically, by correlating these two sets of traits, both at the individual and the group level.
Publications / Publikationen Finkenwirth, C., & Burkart, J. M. (in prep.). Hormonal correlates of individual contributions to infant rearing in common marmosets

Schubiger, M. N., Wuestholz, F. L., Wunder, A., & Burkart, J. M. (in review). Is there a link between emotional reactivity towards an experimenter cognitive performance in common marmosets?

Finkenwirth, C., van Schaik, C. P., Ziegler, T. E., & Burkart, J. M. (in review). Highly affiliative and prosocial dyads in common marmoset families show synchronized fluctuations in oxytocin.

Burkart, J. M., Allon, A., Amici, F., Fichtel, C., Finkenwirth, C., Heschl, A., Huber, J., Isler, K., Kosonen, Z., Martins, E., Meulman, E., Richiger, R., Rueth, K., Spillmann, B., Wiesendanger, S. & van Schaik, C. P. (2014). The evolutionary origin of human hyper-cooperation. Nature Communications 5, 4747.

Burkart, J. M. & Finkenwirth, C. (2014). Marmosets as model species in neuroscience and evolutionary anthropology. Neuroscience Research. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neures.2014.09.003

Burkart, J. M. (2013). Beyond common descent. The cooperative breeding model of human cognitive evolution. Habilitationsschrift, University of Zürich.

Burkart, J. M. (2013). Eine Evoutionsbiologische Perspektive der menschlichen Kognition: Die Rolle der gemeinschaftlichen Jungenaufzucht. In:Hügli, A. & Horn, A. (eds). Die Anthropologische Wende. Studia philosophica 72, Basel: Schwabe, 31-57.

Schubiger, M. N., van Schaik, C. P., & Burkart, J. M. (2013). Looking for individual-level differences in cognitive abilities: is there a marmoset "g"? Folia Primatologica, 84, 254-254.
Burkart, J. M. (2013). Beyond common descent. The cooperative breeding model of human cognitive evolution. Habilitationsschrift., University of Zürich.

Burkart, J. M. & Rueth, K. (2013). Preschool children fail primate prosocial game because of attentional task demands. PLOS One, 8(7), e68440.

Burkart, J. M. & van Schaik, C. P. (2013). Group service in macaques, capuchins, and marmosets: A comparative approach to identifying proactive prosocial motivations. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 127(2), 212-.227.

Bullinger, A., Burkart, J. M., Melis, A., & Tomasello, M. (2013). Bonobos (Pan paniscus), chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) prefer to feed alone. Animal Behaviour, 85, 51-60.

van Schaik, C. P., Isler, K. & Burkart, J. M. (2012). Explaining brain size variation: From social to cultural brain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 16 (5), 277-284.

Jaeggi, A., Burkart, J. M. & van Schaik, C. P. (2010). On the psychology of cooperation in humans and other primates: the natural history and experimental evidence of prosociality. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 12, 365: 2723-2735.

Burkart, J. M. & van Schaik, C. P. (2010) Cognitive consequences of cooperative breeding. Animal Cognition, 31 (1), 1-19.

Burkart, J. M., Hrdy, S. B. & van Schaik, C. P. (2009). Cooperative breeding and human cognitive evolution. Evolutionary Anthropology 18 (59), 175-186.

Kappeler, P. M., Silk, S. J., Burkart, J. M. & van Schaik, C. P. (2009) Primate Behavior and Human Universals: Exploring the Gap. In: Kappeler PM, Silk J, editors. Mind the Gap: Tracing the Origins of Human Universals. 3-15.

van Schaik CP, Burkart JM (2009) Mind the Gap: Cooperative breeding and the evolution of our unique features. In: Kappeler PM, Silk J, editors. Mind the Gap: Tracing the Origins of Human Universals.477-496.

Burkart, J. M. (2008). Cooperative breeding and socio-cognitive abilities. In: Louise S. Röska-Hardy and Eva M. Neumann-Held (eds.). Learning from Animals? London: Psychology Press. 123-141.

Burkart, J. M., Fehr, E., Efferson, C., & van Schaik, C. P. (2007). Other-regarding preferences in a nonhuman primate: Common marmosets provision food altruistically. PNAS 104 (50), 19762-19766.

PRESENTATIONS

2013

*Burkart, J. M.: Gemeinsam sind wir stärker. Unterstützen sich Affen gegenseitig? Vortragsreihe “Biologie und Erkrankungen von Wildtieren”, Vetsuisse Fakultät der Universität Zürich, Zürich, October 22.

*Burkart, J. M.: Marmoset Minds and Human Cognitive Evolution. Igakuken International Symposium on Marmoset Neuroscience - Anatomy, Development and Function. Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Medical Science(Igakuken), Tokyo, October 3-4.

Finkenwirth, C., van Schaik, C., Burkart, J. M.: Relationships in Common Marmoset Families: Oxytocin Synchronicity Is Linked to Dyadic Bond Strength, Folia primatologica 84 (3-5), 273-273, EFP meeting Antwerp, Belgium, September 10-13.

*Burkart, J. M.: Links between Tolerance, Inhibition and Prosociality across Primate Species, Folia primatologica 84 (3-5), 254-254, EFP meeting Antwerp, Belgium, September 10-13.

Schubiger, M. N., van Schaik, C. P., Burkart, J. M.: Looking for Individual-Level Differences in Cognitive Abilities: Is There a Marmoset'g'? Folia primatologica 84 (3-5), 318-318, EFP meeting Antwerp, Belgium, September 10-13.

Schubiger, M. N., Wüstholz, F. L., Wunder, A. & Burkart, J. M. Is there a link between emotional reactivity towards an experimenter and cognitive task performance in common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus)? 13th Conference of the Gesellschaft für Primatologie, Hamburg, Germany. February 8th.

2012

*Burkart, J.M.: The origin of proactive prosociality in children and nonhuman primates. No
need for Theory of Mind reasoning. Workshop “The early development of prosocial behavior”, Center of Advanced Studies of the LM University, Munich, Germany, December 17-18.

*Burkart, J.M.: Evolution of Cognition, Culture, and Evolution,ProDoc Workshop, Beatenberg
(CH), December 6-9

*Burkart J. M.: Wie Affen denken. Flying Science, Basel ,CH, November 23.

*Burkart, J. M.: Warum wir und nicht die anderen Affen? Zur Evolution der kognitiven
Fähigkeiten des Menschen. Bildungsreihe St. Georgen, St.Gallen, CH, November 7.

Schubiger, M. N., van Schaik, C. P., Burkart, J. M. Looking for „g“ in the common
marmoset. Are some individuals cleverer than others? DK Cognition & Communication, PhD student meeting Universities Zurich and Vienna, Zurich, Switzerland. October 10th.

*Burkart, J. M., Richiger, R., Roelli, C. & van Schaik. When is behavior intentional?
Operationalization attempts with common marmosets. Intentionality in communication workshop, University of Zurich, CH, September 5.

Schubiger, M. N., van Schaik, C. P. & Burkart, J. M. Looking for “g” in the common
marmoset. XXIV Congress of the International Primatological Society, Cancun,
Mexico. August 16th.

Finkenwirth, C., van Schaik, C. P., & Burkart, J. M. Neuroendocrine regulation of
prosociality n common marmosets – Oxytocin and affiliation in individuals and dyads. XXIV Congress of the International Primatological Society, Cancun,
Mexico. August 16th.

*Burkart, J. M. Beyond common descent. The cooperative breeding model of human
evolution. Seminar, University of Graz, Austria, June 20.

*Burkart, J. M. The devil is in the details. How the lack of valid species comparisons prevents
identifying the function of prosociality. Big Topics in Behavioral Biology Workshop, University of Neuchatel, CH, April 25.

*Burkart, J.M.: Eine Evoutinsbiologische Perspektive der menschlichen Kognition: Die Rolle der gemeinschaftlichen Jungenaufzucht. Invited plenary at the Symposium „Die
Anthropologische Wende“ of the Schweizerische Philosophische Gesellschaft, Zürich, CH, Mai 10 - 12.

2011

*Burkart, J.M.: Did cooperative breeding shape our minds? Cognitive consequences of
shared infant care in primates. Invited plenary at the IV Congress of the European Federation for Primatalogy, III Iberian Primatological Conference, Almada, E, September 14-17.

Weitere Informationen

Keywords / Suchbegriffe cooperative breeding, cognition, common marmosets, evolution of cogition, prosociality
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Dr. Judith Burkart (Project Leader) judith.burkart@aim.uzh.ch
Other links to external web pages http://www.aim.uzh.ch/Members/seniorlecturers-1/judithburkart.html
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
Universität Zürich (position pursuing an academic career), SNF (Personen- und Projektförderung), Others
Schultz Stiftung, Beyeler Stiftung
In collaboration with /
In Zusammenarbeit mit
Christa Finkenwirth, Doktorandin, Anthropologisches Institut Zürich
Michèle Schubiger, Doktorandin, Anthropologisches Institut Zürich
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Jan 2009 to Aug 2014