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Sylvius Lecture by Andrew Whiten (St. Andrews): Social Learning and Culture in Child, Chimpanzee, and in Our Evolutionary Ancestry

Social Learning and Culture in Child, Chimpanzee, and in Our Evolutionary Ancestry
Andrew Whiten, Centre for Social Learning and Cognitive Evolution, School of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of St Andrews

Date & Time: March 15th, 2019, 4.30 pm
Location: Collegezaal 5, Building 1, Leiden University Medical Centre

Culture was once thought uniquely human, but research in recent decades has revealed an undreamt-of richness in the social learning, traditions and culture of our closest primate relatives. The implication is that although human culture is the most complex on the planet, it did not arise out of the blue, but instead evolved from simpler foundations. We can use commonalities in cultural phenomena between ourselves and other apes to reconstruct these origins.

In this talk I do so by describing the commonalities we have discovered between human and chimpanzee culture in (i) the patterning of traditions in space and over time; (ii) the contents of traditions; and (iii) the underlying social learning processes, such as imitation and emulation. This comparative approach also throws into clearer relief the ways in which human culture has evolved from its primate origins in distinctive ways.

For more information, see the website of the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition.

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