Research Area B - Assessing Others

B01Coordinating action towards achieving a common goal, not only requires planning your own actions, but also proper anticipation of action target and timing of the others. Here we will describe how humans operate and act together using a novel quantitative framework with the goal to understand conflicts during interaction better. We focus on tasks where humans interactively manipulate objects and which require the mutual prediction of the planned action of the other. Prediction failures are in the centre and we quantify human reactions to these failures. Such situations are common in real life and this project may lead to improved ways for resolving (potentially damaging) conflicts that can arise between us humans in such situations.

B02The role of social observation networks in the fronto-parietal cortex during social cognition has not been studied extensively. To explore the neural underpinnings of action perception, prediction, and execution, we will conduct large-scale electrophysiological recordings while macaques either perform grasping actions or observe those of another agent. We will first record grasp-related neuronal activity in the Dyadic Interaction Platform, and will then explore to what extent these neuronal representations are stable in freely moving animals in the Exploration Room Platform. This will advance not only our understanding of cortical processing of own and observed grasping actions, but also of Cognition of Interaction in general.

B03How do different forms of Theory of Mind develop in human ontogeny? How may they have emerged over evolution? The present project presents and tests a comprehensive theoretical approach to these questions that distinguishes between different forms and levels of complexity of Theory of Mind. Analogous Theory of Mind tasks will be administered with humans across the lifespan and with nonhuman primates. It is expected that human infants and non-human primates master tasks of a basic level of complexity, but that only older children and adults with sufficient linguistic experience come to master tasks of higher levels of complexity. These studies will contribute to a refined picture of shared primate and uniquely human social cognition.

B04Theory of Mind (ToM) is a crucial capacity in social decision-making. The ensuing mental models of others allow for accurate action prediction of the other person (“I think that you will do X”). However, such mental models can become recursive, when they include what the other person thinks of ourselves (“I think that you think that I will do Y”). Here, we investigate such recursive ToM in the context of a novel social foraging task with rapid switches between cooperative and competitive interactions. We test the adaptivity of recursive ToM and its relative stability of across interactional context using computational modeling and EEG hyperscanning.

B05We will investigate whether free-living Guinea baboons are able to evaluate other group members’ foraging abilities. Remotely controllable food dispensers will be deployed and it will be tested whether the experimentally manipulated foraging competence influences partner choice in both social interactions and a cooperative foraging task. Social network analyses form the basis for assessing the effect of the experimental manipulation. The aim is to contribute to a better understanding of the socio-cognitive processes underlying partner choice; a core issue in the Cognition of Interaction.

B06We will investigate how wild lemurs evaluate others’ expertise to guide their social learning and social interactions, and how individuals integrate sensory and social information during learning. We will combine behavioural observations of social interactions with social network analyses and social learning experiments in which we remotely manipulate personal information of learners and demonstrators of an experimental task. We will employ computer vision techniques to track detailed information on social and individual information gathering of subjects during experiments. Hence, our project contributes to two central topics in Cognition of Interactions.