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The evolutionary and neuro-cognitive basis of the link between imitation, emphaty and prosocial behaviour in dogs and humans

This proposal addresses one of the most enduring and crucial problems in cognitive science: what is the relationship between cognition and emotion? Two recent discoveries have contributed to this question: cognitive scientist have revealed that imitation, emotion understanding and empathy are tightly linked, and social psychologists found that peoples’ tendency to inadvertently copy each other’s gestures facilitates social interaction. This project aims at resolving three open questions, with respect to the ultimate (evolutionary) and proximate (neurocognitive) mechanisms mediating these relationships. These questions are multi-level in nature and therefore require interdisciplinary approaches and complementary expertise. Bringing together a team of leading European experts, we will conduct behavioral experiments on dogs and behavioral and neuroscientific ones in humans. We expect major breakthroughs in understanding the mechanisms that enable the establishment and maintenance of cooperation and well-being, with considerable societal and ethical relevance.
prosocial behaviour
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Projektkoordination gesamt
Huber Ludwig
WWTF Cognitive Sciences Call 2015
Art der Forschung

Weitere Informationen:

Beteiligte Vetmed-Organisationseinheiten
Messerli Forschungsinstitut, Abteilung für Vergleichende Kognitionsforschung
Gefördert durch
Wiener Wissenschafts-, Forschungs- und Technologiefonds (WWTF), Schlickgasse 3/12, 1090 Wien, Österreich
15 Publikationen

Benz-Schwarzburg, J; Monsó, S; Huber, L (2020): How Dogs Perceive Humans and How Humans Should Treat Their Pet Dogs: Linking Cognition With Ethics. Front Psychol. 2020; 11:584037
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Park, SY; Bacelar, CE; Holmqvist, K (2019): Dog eye movements are slower than human eye movements. J Eye Movement Res. 2019; 12(8): 4
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Adriaense, JEC; Koski, SE; Huber, L; Lamm, C (2020): Challenges in the comparative study of empathy and related phenomena in animals. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2020; 112:62-82

Karl, S; Boch, M; Virányi, Z; Lamm, C; Huber, L (2020): Training pet dogs for eye-tracking and awake fMRI. Behav Res Methods. 2020; 52(2):838-856
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Huber, A; Barber, ALA; Faragó, T; Müller, CA; Huber, L (2017): Investigating emotional contagion in dogs (Canis familiaris) to emotional sounds of humans and conspecifics. Anim Cogn. 2017; 20(4):703-715
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Catala, A; Mang, B; Wallis, L; Huber, L (2017): Dogs demonstrate perspective taking based on geometrical gaze following in a Guesser-Knower task. Anim Cogn. 2017; 20(4):581-589
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Huber, L (2016): How Dogs Perceive and Understand Us. Current Directions in Psychological Science 2016; 25: 339-344

Quervel-Chaumette, M; Mainix, G; Range, F; Marshall-Pescini, S (2016): Dogs Do Not Show Pro-social Preferences towards Humans. Front Psychol. 2016; 7:1416
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Barber, AL; Randi, D; Müller, CA; Huber, L (2016): The Processing of Human Emotional Faces by Pet and Lab Dogs: Evidence for Lateralization and Experience Effects. PLoS One. 2016; 11(4):e0152393
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Müller, CA; Riemer, S; Virányi, Z; Huber, L; Range, F (2016): Inhibitory Control, but Not Prolonged Object-Related Experience Appears to Affect Physical Problem-Solving Performance of Pet Dogs. PLoS One. 2016; 11(2):e0147753
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Wallis, LJ; Virányi, Z; Müller, CA; Serisier, S; Huber, L; Range, F (2016): Aging effects on discrimination learning, logical reasoning and memory in pet dogs. Age (Dordr). 2016; 38(1):6
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Wallis, LJ; Range, F; Müller, CA; Serisier, S; Huber, L; Virányi, Z (2015): Training for eye contact modulates gaze following in dogs. Anim Behav. 2015; 106:27-35
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Müller, CA; Schmitt, K; Barber, AL; Huber, L (2015): Dogs can discriminate emotional expressions of human faces. Curr Biol. 2015; 25(5):601-605

Müller, Ester (2014): Heart rate variability in dogs during exposure to emotional human facial expressions. Diplomarbeit, Vet. Med. Univ. Wien, pp. 61.

Pitteri, E; Mongillo, P; Carnier, P; Marinelli, L; Huber, L (2014): Part-based and configural processing of owner"s face in dogs. PLoS One. 2014; 9(9):e108176
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