Julia Fischer

Julia Fischer is Professor of Cognitive Ethology at the German Primate Center and the University of Göttingen.

  • Animal Thinking

    Animal Thinking

    Contemporary Issues in Comparative Cognition

    Randolf Menzel and Julia Fischer

    Experts from psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, ecology, and evolutionary biology assess the field of animal cognition.

    Do animals have cognitive maps? Do they possess knowledge? Do they plan for the future? Do they understand that others have mental lives of their own? This volume provides a state-of-the-art assessment of animal cognition, with experts from psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, ecology, and evolutionary biology addressing these questions in an integrative fashion. It summarizes the latest research, identifies areas where consensus has been reached, and takes on current controversies. Over the last thirty years, the field has shifted from the collection of anecdotes and the pursuit of the subjective experience of animals to a rigorous, hypothesis-driven experimental approach. Taking a skeptical stance, this volume stresses the notion that in many cases relatively simple rules may account for rather complex and flexible behaviors.

    The book critically evaluates current concepts and puts a strong focus on the psychological mechanisms that underpin animal behavior. It offers comparative analyses that reveal common principles as well as adaptations that evolved in particular species in response to specific selective pressures. It assesses experimental approaches to the study of animal navigation, decision making, social cognition, and communication and suggests directions for future research. The book promotes a research program that seeks to understand animals' cognitive abilities and behavioral routines as individuals and as members of social groups.

    • Hardcover $45.00

Contributor

  • Evolution of Communicative Flexibility

    Evolution of Communicative Flexibility

    Complexity, Creativity, and Adaptability in Human and Animal Communication

    D. Kimbrough Oller and Ulrike Griebel

    Experts investigate communicative flexibility (in both form and usage of signals) as the foundation of the evolution of complex communication systems, including human language.

    The evolutionary roots of human communication are difficult to trace, but recent comparative research suggests that the first key step in that evolutionary history may have been the establishment of basic communicative flexibility—the ability to vocalize freely combined with the capability to coordinate vocalization with communicative intent. The contributors to this volume investigate how some species (particularly ancient hominids) broke free of the constraints of “fixed signals,” actions that were evolved to communicate but lack the flexibility of language—a newborn infant's cry, for example, always signals distress and has a stereotypical form not modifiable by the crying baby. Fundamentally, the contributors ask what communicative flexibility is and what evolutionary conditions can produce it. The accounts offered in these chapters are notable for taking the question of language origins farther back in evolutionary time than in much previous work. Many contributors address the very earliest communicative break of the hominid line from the primate background; others examine the evolutionary origins of flexibility in, for example, birds and marine mammals. The volume's interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives illuminate issues that are on the cutting edge of recent research on this topic.

    Contributors Stéphanie Barbu, Curt Burgess, Josep Call, Laurance Doyle, Julia Fischer, Michael Goldstein, Ulrike Griebel, Kurt Hammerschmidt, Sean Hanser, Martine Hausberger, Laurence Henry, Allison Kaufman, Stan Kuczaj, Robert F. Lachlan, Brian MacWhinney, Radhika Makecha, Brenda McCowan, D. Kimbrough Oller, Michael Owren, Ron Schusterman, Charles T. Snowdon, Kim Sterelny, Benoît Testé, Gert Westermann

    • Hardcover $11.75
    • Paperback $40.00