MMB8043 : Comparative Cognition: Information Processing in Humans and Other Animals
- Offered for Year: 2020/21
- Module Leader(s): Dr John Skelhorn
- Demonstrator: Dr Bess Price
- Lecturer: Professor Christopher Petkov, Dr Lucy Asher, Dr Vivek Nityananda, Professor Candy Rowe
- Owning School: FMS Graduate School
- Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
|Semester 1 Credit Value:||20|
Humans are often believed to be unique among animals in their cognitive abilities. However, these abilities did not arise de novo, but evolved in our lineage under specific selective pressures. This means that other animals which are either closely related to us or have undergone similar selective pressures will have evolved similar cognitive abilities. In this module, the students will explore how different humans really are from other animals in our cognitive abilities, and how cognition can be studied in non-human animals.
Outline Of Syllabus
The module will cover a number of topics in comparative cognition, taught by experts in the respective fields. These will include:
Learning and memory
Emotions and cognition
Tool use and physical cognition
Language and communication
Social learning and culture
|Guided Independent Study||Assessment preparation and completion||1||50:00||50:00||Preparation for the exam|
|Guided Independent Study||Assessment preparation and completion||1||50:00||50:00||Preparation for the in-course assessment|
|Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities||Lecture||12||2:00||24:00|
|Guided Independent Study||Independent study||1||76:00||76:00||Reading around the topic|
Teaching Rationale And Relationship
The main teaching method is the interactive lecture, in which the students need to engage with the questions and come up with their own solutions to the problems posed, interspersed with more traditional lecturing on what has already been done in the past. This mix of approaches will allow the students to develop the skills to design their own comparative cognition studies and to start thinking about cognition in its comparative and evolutionary context.
The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners
|Written Examination||60||1||A||60||Choice of 1 from 3 questions, addressing big-picture questions relating to comparative cognition and its implications.|
|Research proposal||1||M||40||Design of a study in a novel species, presented as a research proposal/mock-report. Word limit 2000.|
|Research proposal||1||M||First draft of the Research proposal. This will be given formative feedback for improvement, before submitting final draft.|
Assessment Rationale And Relationship
The in-course assessment is aimed at practising and getting feedback on the skill of designing experiments in comparative cognition; as well as the skill of scientific written communication. The students will pick one from a list of topics, all aimed at testing a particular cognitive skill in a new species. They will write up their design either as a research proposal or as a mock paper, written as if the study had really been conducted and submitted for publication. Having a first draft formative assessment allows the students to learn from detailed feedback and hence really improve their skills to the final draft.
The examination will test the ability to think about cognition in a comparative and evolutionary context, and will ask broad questions about the implications of findings in comparative cognition for our understanding of concepts like evolution, consciousness, human uniqueness, etc. This will be a traditional, essay-based examination.