Kevin Laland gives next EEB seminar

Posted by on Feb 24 2010 in Events, Lectures/SeminarsNo comment

Professor Kevin Laland from the Laland Lab at University of St Andrews will be our lecturer for the next EEB seminar. His talk, "Animal Social Learning and the Evolution of Culture", will hold at 10 Guyot Hall on Monday March 1st 2010, at 12.30pm.

The Laland lab studies social learning, cultural evolution and niche construction, integrating rigorous experimental work on primates, birds and fish with theoretical approaches. Current projects include identifying evolved social learning strategies, developing methods to predict the diffusion and inheritance of behaviour, and exploring the evolution of intelligence.

Hereafter is the abstract of Professor Kevin Laland’s talk:

"Both demographically and ecologically, humans are a remarkably successful species. This success is generally attributed to our capacity for culture. But how did our species’ extraordinary cultural capabilities evolve from its roots in animal social learning and tradition? In this seminar I will provide a provisional answer. After characterizing contemporary research into animal social learning and illustrating this overview with experiments from my laboratory, I will focus in on a case study of stickleback learning that illustrates the strategic nature of animal copying. I will go on to describe the findings of an international competition (the ‘social learning strategies tournament’) that I organized to investigate the best way to learn. I will suggest that the tournament sheds light on why copying is widespread in nature, and why humans happen to be so good at it. Finally, I will end by describing some other theoretical projects suggesting feedback mechanisms that may have been instrumental to the evolution of culture."

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