Darwin claimed that other species share the same "mental powers" as humans, only to different degrees. This course will examine the evidence for Darwin's claim, focusing on the evolutionary, neural, and molecular basis of animal cognition. We will ask how and why organisms behave as they do, exploring the ways in which evolution has adapted organisms' information gathering, perception, learning ability, memory, and decision making to both their physical and social world. Key examples will be drawn from navigation, tool-use, communication, and cultural imitation. An overarching emphasis will be placed on the active process of scientific discovery, especially how strong inference and multiple competing hypotheses enable scientists to make discoveries. Jack and Laidre.
Syllabus for Spring 2022 offering.