The overarching purpose of this project is to investigate the role of memory systems, in particular episodic memory, in complex social life, and thereby provide new insights into the evolution of complex cognition. Both corvids and great apes will be studied.
In this project the role of memory will be investigated in studies relating to reciprocal altruism, indirect reciprocity, preferences of others and habits of others. The set ups on reciprocal altruism and preferences of others are based on potential memories of interactions with someone else, while the set ups on indirect reciprocity and habits of others are based on the potential memories from merely observing others. Within these aims several questions may be answered: Do ravens rely on indirect or generalized reciprocity in their interactions? Are ravens able to infer and remember the emotional states of others and use this information in first-person encounters with those who inflicted the emotional states in others? Are ravens and chimpanzees able to remember the preferences of specific individuals, and if so, how many? Can ravens remember the habits of specific individuals and use this information for their own benefit, and if so, how many can they remember?
This project – financed by the Swedish Research Council and the European Research Council – is a collaboration between Lund University and the University of Vienna, which allows testing of more animals from different populations. This is important as ravens represent a central model species in the non-primate study of social cognition.