Part of the Developmental and Social Cognitive Neuroscience Seminar Series
Speaker: Eva Reindl
On the spontaneous ability of humans to use and make great ape tools
The basic ability to use tools is shared by humans and other great apes. Still, the variety and complexity of human tools remain unique. In an attempt to account for these species differences, the zone of latent solutions (ZLS) theory suggests that non-human animals acquire tool use behaviors mostly by individual (re-)inventions (latent solutions) whereas humans can extend their ZLS by imitation and teaching.
Research on imitative learning has been intense, but little is known about the ZLS of humans: What types of tool uses are humans able to invent on their own, i.e. without having to rely on cultural knowledge? Our study explored the range of the human ZLS by investigating what kinds of great ape cultural tools young children are able to use spontaneously and without the help of others.