PSYC E-1095 Interspecies Communication: Can We Really Talk with the Animals?
Studies to teach animals elements of human language were once considered cutting-edge science, but are now viewed as worthy of little more than a chapter in comparative psychology textbooks. Why did such projects capture the interest of scientists and nonscientists alike, and why did this interest end? What was learned from these studies, and what could we learn if they were again in vogue? For example, researchers' arguments as to whether animals trained in American Sign Language had acquired real grammar forced us to examine human linguistic behavior in detail. Would renewed interest in animal language reenergize studies on similarities and differences in human and nonhuman communicative behavior? The course considers the rationale behind the original studies and examines their successes, failures, and reasons, both political and scientific, why most projects have ended. Prerequisite: introductory psychology recommended.
Spring term (23843)
Irene M. Pepperberg, PhD, Research Associate in Psychology, Harvard University and Adjunct Associate Professor in Psychology, Brandeis University.