Higher cognitive functions in children, adults and non-human animals

School of Psychology

College of Life and Environmental Sciences


Code 21142

Level of study Third/Final year

Credit value 20

Semester 2

Module description

We will examine studies examining three topics (time, causality and theory of mind) in three different participant groups (children, adults, and non-human animals). Our aim will be an integration of evidence across these groups to address what it is to understand these topics.
1. Introduction
2. Development of thinking about time
3. Non-human animals’ understanding of time
4. Heuristics and biases in human adults’ thinking about time
5. Children’s thinking about causality
6. Folk physics in non-human animals
7. Adults’ thinking and reasoning about causes
8. Development of theory of mind
9. Theory of mind in non-human animals
10. Theory of mind in human adults

On successful completion of this module, the student will be able to:
Describe empirical evidence about the nature of higher cognitive functions (time, causality, theory of mind) in children, adults and non-human animals.
Critically evaluate the methods used with different participant groups.
For each topic evaluate the developmental and evolutionary relationships suggested by the evidence.
Integrate evidence from children, adults and non-human animals to evaluate what it means to ‘understand’ time, causality and theory of mind.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and workshops