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Upcoming Lecture by Tetsuro Matsuzawa

ReporterTetsuro Matsuzawa, professor, Kyoto University, Japan

Title of the LectureComparative cognitive science: Research, conservation, and welfare of the chimpanzees

Time and Location: March 25, 2013 (Monday), 10:00am;  KIZ main building, 3rd floor Lecture Hall 327
Testuro Matsuzawa has been studying chimpanzee intelligence both in the laboratory and in the wild. The laboratory work, known as "Ai-project", has been focusing on the language-like skills and the concept of numbers in a female chimpanzee named Ai in the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University, Japan. Ai project started in 1978. Matsuzawa has also been studying the behavior of wild chimpanzees since 1986. The research site is Bossou and Nimba, Guinea, West Africa. Bossou chimpanzees are well known to use a pair of mobile stones as hammer and anvil to crack open oil-palm nuts. His long-term research on wild chimpanzee tool use revealed interesting topics such as handedness, critical period of learning, learning mechanism called “Education by master-apprenticeship”, cultural variation in adjacent communities, and so on. Matsuzawa has published many articles and books some of them were translated into Chinese. He got the Jane Goodall Award in 2001 and the Medal of Purple Ribbon in 2004. He is the current president of International Primatological Society.

Abstract of the talk:

I have studied the chimpanzees both in the wild and laboratory. Laboratory studies showed that chimpanzees can represent, to some extent, both the cardinal and the ordinal aspect of number. Through the medium of Arabic numerals we compared working memory in humans and chimpanzees using the same apparatus and following the same procedure. As a result, three young chimpanzees outperformed human adults in memorizing briefly presented numerals. However, we found that chimpanzees were less proficient at a variety of other cognitive tasks including imitation, cross-modal matching, symmetry of symbols and referents, and one-to-one correspondence. In sum, chimpanzees do not possess humanlike capabilities for representation at an abstract level. The present talk will discuss the constraints of the chimpanzee cognition, and illuminate some unique features of human cognition. The chimpanzee is the endangered species in CITES. The research must be going along with the conservation in the wild and also the welfare in the laboratory. To conclude the talk, I would like to mention the humane way of studying chimpanzees, our evolutionary neighbors. 

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