Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

If at first you don't succeed ... Studies of ontogeny shed light on the cognitive demands of habitual tool use

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

DOI

Abstract

Many species use tools, but the mechanisms underpinning the behaviour differ between species and even among individuals within species, depending on the variants performed. When considering tool use 'as adaptation', an important first step is to understand the contribution made by fixed phenotypes as compared to flexible mechanisms, for instance learning. Social learning of tool use is sometimes inferred based on variation between populations of the same species but this approach is questionable. Specifically, alternative explanations cannot be ruled out because population differences are also driven by genetic and/or environmental factors. To better understand the mechanisms underlying routine but non-universal (i.e. habitual) tool use, we suggest focusing on the ontogeny of tool use and individual variation within populations. For example, if tool-using competence emerges late during ontogeny and improves with practice or varies with exposure to social cues, then a role for learning can be inferred. Experimental studies help identify the cognitive and developmental mechanisms used when tools are used to solve problems. The mechanisms underlying the route to tool-use acquisition have important consequences for our understanding of the accumulation in technological skill complexity over the life course of an individual, across generations and over evolutionary time.

Close

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number20130050
Number of pages12
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences
Volume368
Issue number1630
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2013

    Research areas

  • habitual tool use, ontogeny, social learning, cognition, inhibition, phenotypic plasticity, CHIMPANZEES PAN-TROGLODYTES, CROWS CORVUS-MONEDULOIDES, CAPUCHIN MONKEYS CEBUS, DOLPHINS TURSIOPS SP., CALEDONIAN CROWS, WILD CHIMPANZEES, LIFE-HISTORY, GREAT APES, BEHAVIORAL FLEXIBILITY, INDIVIDUAL VARIATION

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. Why preen others? Predictors of allopreening in parrots and corvids and comparisons to grooming in great apes

    Picard, A. M., Mundry, R., Auersperg, A. M., Boeving, E. R., Boucherie, P. H., Bugnyar, T., Dufour, V., Emery, N. J., Federspiel, I. G., Gajdon, G. K., Guéry, J-P., Hegedič, M., Horn, L., Kavanagh, E., Lambert, M. L., Massen, J. J. M., Rodrigues, M. A., Schiestl, M., Schwing, R., Szabo, B. & 5 others, Taylor, A. H., van Horik, J. O., von Bayern, A. M. P., Seed, A. & Slocombe, K. E., 16 Dec 2019, In : Ethology. Early View

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Establishing an infrastructure for collaboration in primate cognition research

    Altschul, D. M., Beran, M. J., Bohn, M., Call, J., DeTroy, S., Duguid, S. J., Egelkamp, C. L., Fichtel, C., Fischer, J., Flessert, M., Hanus, D., Haun, D. B. M., Haux, L. M., Hernandez-Aguilar, R. A., Herrmann, E., Hopper, L. M., Joly, M., Kano, F., Keupp, S., Melis, A. P. & 12 others, Motes Rodrigo, A., Ross, S. R., Sánchez-Amaro, A., Sato, Y., Schmitt, V., Schweinfurth, M. K., Seed, A. M., Taylor, D., Voelter, C. J., Warren, E., Watzek, J. & on behalf of Many Primates, 24 Oct 2019, In : PLoS One. 14, 10, 19 p., e0223675.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. Cooperation in children

    Slocombe, K. E. & Seed, A. M., 3 Jun 2019, In : Current Biology. 29, 11, p. R470-R473 4 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Tool Use as Adaptation

    Biro, D. (ed.), Haslam, M. (ed.) & Rutz, C. (ed.), 2013, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences, 368, 1630.

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationSpecial issue

Related by journal

  1. Price's equation made clear

    Gardner, A., 4 Jan 2020, (Accepted/In press) In : Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  2. Causes and consequences of female centrality in cetacean societies

    Rendell, L. E., Cantor, M., Gero, S., Whitehead, H. & Mann, J., Sep 2019, In : Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences. 374, 1780, 13 p., 20180066.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  3. Parasitic cuckoo catfish exploit parental responses to lost offspring

    Polačik, M., Reichard, M., Smith, C. & Blažek, R., Apr 2019, In : Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences. Forthcoming

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  4. Syntax and compositionality in animal communication

    Zuberbuhler, K., 18 Nov 2019, In : Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences. 375, 1789, 20190062.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Related by journal

  1. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences (Journal)

    Christian Rutz (Editor)
    20122013

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  2. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B (Journal)

    Will Cresswell (Member of editorial board)
    20092014

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  3. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences (Journal)

    Tanja van Mourik (Member of editorial board)
    2009

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

  4. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B, Biological Sciences (Journal)

    Andrew Whiten (Member of editorial board)
    2008 → …

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditor of research journal

ID: 136103745

Top