Abstract # 1145 Event # 536:

Scheduled for Friday, June 30, 2006 11:00 AM-01:00 PM: Session 67 (Bwindi) Symposium

SYMPOSIUM: Social influences on individual behavior: from social contagion to social synchronization and cooperation. Evolutionary processes and constraints on the origins of social cognition

P. Ferrari1, E. Addessi2 and E. Visalberghi2
1Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Università di Parma, Italy, Via Volturno 39, Parma 43100, Italy, 2Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione, CNR, Rome, Italy
     A basic tenet in social cognition is that individual’s behavior is influenced by the behavior of others. There is growing evidence that mirror neurons represent the neurophysiological basis underlying several behavioral processes, especially in the domain of perception-action. Moreover, recent studies showed that in nonhuman primates the observation of conspecifics’ behaviors may trigger similar behaviors by means of simple mechanisms such as response facilitation and contagion (Visalberghi & Addessi). This symposium will explore recent advances in the field of the ontogeny of facilitated behaviors, with particular emphasis on neonatal imitation of simple actions (e.g., tongue protrusion, mouth opening) in chimpanzees and macaques. On the basis of the above mechanisms the emergence of more complex forms of social influences which couple perception with action, as in imitation learning, become possible. Scientists from different fields of primate cognition will (1) illustrate and integrate the basic knowledge of how perception and action mechanisms can integrate and allow the emergence of complex cognitive skills such as learning a sequence of actions (action understanding in common marmosets, discrimination of human’s intentional and unintentional actions in capuchin monkeys), (2) explore how the understanding of others’ goals and intentions can tune the behavior of the observer so that it can synchronize and coordinate its own activity with that of the observed agent(s) (information transmission in Tonkean macaques, on social influences on foraging behavior and social learning in common marmosets, cognitive imitation), and (3) discuss how such cognitive abilities could serve for the emergence of the cooperative behaviors typically described in apes and so far little explored in other nonhuman primate species (social learning and cooperation in great apes, cooperation in capuchin monkeys).