Animal Cognition

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 223–238

How does cognition evolve? Phylogenetic comparative psychology

Authors

    • Department of Evolutionary AnthropologyDuke University
  • Luke J. Matthews
    • Department of Human Evolutionary BiologyHarvard University
  • Brian A. Hare
    • Department of Evolutionary AnthropologyDuke University
    • Center for Cognitive NeuroscienceDuke University
  • Charles L. Nunn
    • Department of Human Evolutionary BiologyHarvard University
  • Rindy C. Anderson
    • Biology DepartmentDuke University
  • Filippo Aureli
    • Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology, School of Natural Sciences and PsychologyLiverpool John Moores University
  • Elizabeth M. Brannon
    • Center for Cognitive NeuroscienceDuke University
    • Psychology and NeuroscienceDuke University
  • Josep Call
    • Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Christine M. Drea
    • Department of Evolutionary AnthropologyDuke University
    • Biology DepartmentDuke University
  • Nathan J. Emery
    • School of Biological and Chemical SciencesQueen Mary University of London
  • Daniel B. M. Haun
    • Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
    • Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Portsmouth
  • Esther Herrmann
    • Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Lucia F. Jacobs
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of California
  • Michael L. Platt
    • Department of Evolutionary AnthropologyDuke University
    • Center for Cognitive NeuroscienceDuke University
    • Department of NeurobiologyDuke University Medical Center
  • Alexandra G. Rosati
    • Department of Evolutionary AnthropologyDuke University
    • Center for Cognitive NeuroscienceDuke University
  • Aaron A. Sandel
    • Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Michigan
  • Kara K. Schroepfer
    • Department of Evolutionary AnthropologyDuke University
  • Amanda M. Seed
    • School of PsychologyUniversity of St Andrews
  • Jingzhi Tan
    • Department of Evolutionary AnthropologyDuke University
  • Carel P. van Schaik
    • Anthropological Institute and MuseumUniversity of Zürich
  • Victoria Wobber
    • Department of Human Evolutionary BiologyHarvard University
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10071-011-0448-8

Cite this article as:
MacLean, E.L., Matthews, L.J., Hare, B.A. et al. Anim Cogn (2012) 15: 223. doi:10.1007/s10071-011-0448-8

Abstract

Now more than ever animal studies have the potential to test hypotheses regarding how cognition evolves. Comparative psychologists have developed new techniques to probe the cognitive mechanisms underlying animal behavior, and they have become increasingly skillful at adapting methodologies to test multiple species. Meanwhile, evolutionary biologists have generated quantitative approaches to investigate the phylogenetic distribution and function of phenotypic traits, including cognition. In particular, phylogenetic methods can quantitatively (1) test whether specific cognitive abilities are correlated with life history (e.g., lifespan), morphology (e.g., brain size), or socio-ecological variables (e.g., social system), (2) measure how strongly phylogenetic relatedness predicts the distribution of cognitive skills across species, and (3) estimate the ancestral state of a given cognitive trait using measures of cognitive performance from extant species. Phylogenetic methods can also be used to guide the selection of species comparisons that offer the strongest tests of a priori predictions of cognitive evolutionary hypotheses (i.e., phylogenetic targeting). Here, we explain how an integration of comparative psychology and evolutionary biology will answer a host of questions regarding the phylogenetic distribution and history of cognitive traits, as well as the evolutionary processes that drove their evolution.

Keywords

Phylogenetic comparative methodsEvolutionAdaptationPhylogenyFunctionCognitive evolutionSelective pressure

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011