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Trends Cogn Sci. 2010 May;14(5):201-7. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2010.03.003. Epub 2010 Apr 1.

Towards a bottom-up perspective on animal and human cognition.

Author information

1
Living Links, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, and Psychology Department, Emory University, 954 North Gatewood Road, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA. dewaal@emory.edu

Abstract

Over the last few decades, comparative cognitive research has focused on the pinnacles of mental evolution, asking all-or-nothing questions such as which animals (if any) possess a theory of mind, culture, linguistic abilities, future planning, and so on. Research programs adopting this top-down perspective have often pitted one taxon against another, resulting in sharp dividing lines. Insight into the underlying mechanisms has lagged behind. A dramatic change in focus now seems to be under way, however, with increased appreciation that the basic building blocks of cognition might be shared across a wide range of species. We argue that this bottom-up perspective, which focuses on the constituent capacities underlying larger cognitive phenomena, is more in line with both neuroscience and evolutionary biology.

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PMID:
20363178
DOI:
10.1016/j.tics.2010.03.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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