DEC Colloquium

Baboons process second-order relations: a case of complex conceptual (analogical) reasoning without language

Speaker(s)
Joël Fagot
Practical information
25 November 2014
11:30am-1pm
Place

Langevin

 

Analogical reasoning—the ability to perceive and use relational similarity between two situations or events—is often conceived as fundamental aspect of human cognition. Studies on humans and language -trained chimpanzees suggest that this ability is at least boosted, if not strictly permitted, by a linguistic encoding of the task. I will present several experiments testing guinea baboons on the Relational Matching Task (RMTS), which has the same conceptual structure as standard analogy problems. This task is of the form: Given AA, choose XX over YZ; and given AB, choose YZ over XX. I will show that the baboons can learn this task after extensive training, and will demonstrate that their post-training performance is really based on the processing relations between relations. I will discuss the potential contribution of the (non symbolic) training of baboons to this achievement, in comparison to the symbolic-linguistic experience of children.