Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Comparative Cognition

Mary C. Olmstead, Queen's University
Valerie A. Kuhlmeier, Queen's University


Dr. Mary C. Olmstead
Queen's University, Ontario

Mary (Cella) Olmstead is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Queen's University, Canada. Her research examines the neural and psychological interface between motivation and cognition. 
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Dr. Valerie A. Kuhlmeier
Queen's University, Ontario

Valerie Kuhlmeier is Associate Professor of Psychology at Queen's University, Canada. Her research explores cognition from a developmental and evolutionary perspective.
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Why we wrote this book

Comparative cognition is a highly interdisciplinary field that arose from a synthesis of evolutionary biology and experimental psychology. In its modern form, researchers from a variety of scientific backgrounds (e.g. neuroscience, behavioral ecology, cognitive and developmental psychology) come together with the common goal of understanding the mechanisms and function of cognition.

Over the past 15 years, we have taught both undergraduate and graduate courses that covered the subject matter of comparative cognition, although frequently in a course of another name. Like many instructors, we put together course material that included scientific articles, chapters in other textbooks, and our own writings as an attempt to represent the evolving field of comparative cognition. This was not ideal as the presentation of material from different sources is uneven, and undergraduate students often have difficulty conceptualizing the fundamentals of a discipline without the framework provided by a solid textbook. We realized that our experience was not unique when we spoke to colleagues teaching similar courses at other universities.

With this book, we aim to merge classic studies and contemporary research to give students the full picture of the evolving field of comparative cognition. Engaging students in the discipline from its roots in animal learning and evolutionary biology through to current research, the chapters cover both controlled laboratory and comparative cross- species studies in the natural environment. This approach provides students with complementary ethological and neurobiological perspectives on cognition.

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Copyright 2015 Mary C. Olmstead, Valerie A. Kuhlmeier