The Ape Social Mind Lab
(PI: Catherine Crockford)
Together with Roman Wittig, I co-direct the Taï Chimpanzee Project, Taï National Park, Ivory Coast, with four habituated chimpanzee communities and one sooty mangabey group. In collaboration with the Max Planck Institutes for Evolutionary Anthropology and Human Cognitive Science, and the Robert Koch Institute, my research group investigates questions related to the evolution of primate sociality, social cognition, communication and brain connectomics. I examine these from a) comparative and b) ontogenetic perspectives addressing questions of 1) maternal effects on the development of sociality, cognition and communication; 2) variation in communication and cognition at the species, population, ontogenetic and individual levels, and their neural correlates; 3) sociality, health and fitness.
We use long-term data sets of behavioural observations, field experiments, non-invasive hormone sampling, and brain sourcing after natural death to address research questions in chimpanzees and other wild primates. By examining the lives of primates in their natural social and ecological environment, we can assess the socio-cognitive demands required to out-compete others and hence the selection pressures and underlying mechanisms that have shaped primates and their brains.