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The Comparative Cognition & Perception Lab

The Comparative Cognition & Perception Lab (CCP Lab) conducts research in animal cognition and perception. We conduct our research in a number of facilities. Our lab at RIT is located in the Eastman building and houses fish tanks (we currently have goldfish). We also work with the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester NY to study a variety of species (e.g., Bornean orangutans, North American river otters, olive baboons, African black-footed penguins). In addition, we collaborate with research partners in Florida, California, and Hawaii to study bottlenose dolphins. We test human subjects in comparative studies designed to gain insight into cues and strategies used by animals in cognitive tasks and to discover similarities in cognitive and perception between humans and non-human animals. We study a variety of topics including visual and auditory object perception, biosonar, tool use, and number perception.

Using behavioral methods, we have observed many parallels in perception and cognition between humans and non-human animals. For example, goldfish in our lab with extensive training compare favorably to other well-trained birds, humans, or non-human primates on a visual numerical judgment task (DeLong et al., 2017). Humans listening to pre-recorded echoes can perform as well or better than echolocating bottlenose dolphin subjects on a test of object discrimination, which reveals echo auditory features and processing mechanisms potentially used by dolphins (e.g., DeLong, 2017). We also found that North American river otters are capable of categorizing 2D visual stimuli like humans (project in progress). In addition, our results show that there are parallels in performance between Bornean orangutans and human children in their success on different problem solving tasks reguiring tools (e.g., Keller & DeLong, 2016).