1. You are here:
  2. Start
  3. Centre for Cultural Evolution
  4. Publications

New publications

What can associative learning do for planning?


There is a new associative learning paradox. The power of associative learning for producing flexible behaviour in non-human animals is downplayed or ignored by researchers in animal cognition, whereas artificial intelligence research shows that associative learning models can beat humans in chess. One phenomenon in which associative learning often is ruled out as an explanation for animal behaviour is flexible planning. However, planning studies have been criticized and questions have been raised regarding both methodological validity and interpretations of results. Due to the power of associative learning and the uncertainty of what causes planning behaviour in non-human animals, I explored what associative learning can do for planning. A previously published sequence learning model which combines Pavlovian and instrumental conditioning was used to simulate two planning studies, namely Mulcahy & Call 2006 'Apes save tools for future use.' Science 312, 1038-1040 and Kabadayi & Osvath 2017 'Ravens parallel great apes in flexible planning for tool-use and bartering. 'Science 357, 202-204. Simulations show that behaviour matching current definitions of flexible planning can emerge through associative learning. Through conditioned reinforcement, the learning model gives rise to planning behaviour by learning that a behaviour towards a current stimulus will produce high value food at a later stage; it can make decisions about future states not within current sensory scope. The simulations tracked key patterns both between and within studies. It is concluded that one cannot rule out that these studies of flexible planning in apes and corvids can be completely accounted for by associative learning. Future empirical studies of flexible planning in non-human animals can benefit from theoretical developments within artificial intelligence and animal learning.

The Dynamics of Law-Making : A World History

No abstract available.

Behavioral constraints and the evolution of faithful social learning


Behavioral traditions, i.e. behavioral patterns that are acquired with the aid of social learning and that are relatively stable in a group, have been observed in several species. Recently, however, it has been questioned whether non-human social learning is faithful enough to stabilize those patterns. The observed stability could be interpreted as a result of various constraints that limit the number of possible alternative behaviors, rather than of the fidelity of transmission mechanisms. Those constraints can be roughly described as internal, such as mechanical (bodily) properties or cognitive limitations and predispositions, and external, such as ecological availability or pressures. Here we present an evolutionary individual-based model that explores the relationships between the evolution of faithful social learning and behavioral constraints, represented both by the size of the behavioral repertoire and by the shape of the search space of a given task. We show that the evolution of high-fidelity transmission mechanisms, when associated with costs (e. g. cognitive, biomechanical, energetic, etc.), is only likely if the potential behavioral repertoire of a species is large and if the search space does not provide information that can be exploited by individual learning. Moreover we show how stable behavioral patterns (traditions) can be achieved at the population level as an outcome of both high-fidelity and low-fidelity transmission mechanisms, given that the latter are coupled with a small behavioral repertoire or with a search space that provide substantial feedback. Finally, by introducing the possibility of environmental change, we show that intermediate rates of change favor the evolution of faithful social learning.

An Open Resource for Non-human Primate Imaging


Non-human primate neuroimaging is a rapidly growing area of research that promises to transform and scale translational and cross-species comparative neuroscience. Unfortunately, the technological and methodological advances of the past two decades have outpaced the accrual of data, which is particularly challenging given the relatively few centers that have the necessary facilities and capabilities. The PRIMatE Data Exchange (PRIME-DE) addresses this challenge by aggregating independently acquired non-human primate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) datasets and openly sharing them via the International Neuroimaging Data-sharing Initiative (INDI). Here, we present the rationale, design, and procedures for the PRIME-DE consortium, as well as the initial release, consisting of 25 independent data collections aggregated across 22 sites (total = 217 non-human primates). We also outline the unique pitfalls and challenges that should be considered in the analysis of non-human primate MRI datasets, including providing automated quality assessment of the contributed datasets.

Pitfalls in Spatial Modelling of Ethnocentrism : A Simulation Analysis of the Model of Hammond and Axelrod


Ethnocentrism refers to the tendency to behave differently towards strangers based only on whether they belong to the ingroup or the outgroup. It is a widespread phenomenon that can be triggered by arbitrary cues, but the origins of which are not clearly understood. In a recent simulation model by Hammond and Axelrod, an ingroup bias evolves in the prisoners' dilemma game. However, it will be argued here that the model does little to advance our understanding of ethnocentrism. The model assumes a spatial structure in which agents interact only with their immediate neighbourhood, populated mostly by clones, and the marker becomes an approximate cue of whether the partner is one. It will be shown that agents with an ingroup bias are successful compared to unconditional co-operators since they only exclude non-clones, but are outcompeted by less error-prone kin identifiers. Thus, the results of the simulations can be explained by a simple form of kin selection. These findings illustrate how spatial assumptions can alter a model to the extent that it no longer describes the phenomenon under study.

Stakeholder theory : Some revisionist suggestions


The article argues for the use of a narrow stakeholder definition. It also adds one group - managers - that generally is not considered as being a stakeholder group. Here it is suggested that control of this stakeholder group holding the executive power should be a central topic for stakeholder theory. The article supports the common idea that the business discourse and the moral discourse should be integrated in stakeholder theory, not treated as separate tracks. The issue is then how to mold the substance for such integration. This article argues that the priority of stakeholders implies a distancing from general altruistic philosophy that argues against - not for - giving special consideration to the company's stakeholders. Both the moral substance and the business potential lie in the special and close relationship with these partners. Stakeholder theory needs a more compatible ethical theory.

Contact us

Questions about a paper
Please contact the authors directly; see staff page

General questions