In my DFG project “Lifespan Psychology in Great Apes: The Development of Tool Use” which is being conducted in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, I am investigating the developmental trajectories of physical cognition in great apes across the lifespan using long-term data from over 20 years of research.

My main interest lies in the field of physical cognition, including spatial reasoning and object understanding, tool use and causal understanding, understanding of functions and categories, as well as numerical cognition, and how these abilities develop in great apes throughout their lifespan. I am particularly focused on the development during childhood and adolescence and the development in older age. For example, I am interested in the development of tool use, individual differences in tool use, and the cognitive abilities underlying tool use.

In my work, I also explore the interconnections between different cognitive domains. Another important aspect of my research is the study of species differences and individual differences in cognition. Additionally, I am interested in early childhood development, specific developmental milestones, and the influence of early development on later behavior and cognition. For my research, I use (non-invasive) experimental and observational data from bonobos (Pan paniscus), chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), gorillas (Gorilla gorilla), and orangutans (Pongo abelii) collected at the Wolfgang Köhler Primate Research Center at the Leipzig Zoo.

A particular focus of my work is handling and combining large datasets, as well as developing and applying appropriate statistical methods for analyzing structurally diverse datasets. Together with my colleague Dr. Alejandro Sánchez-Amaro, who focuses on social cognition, we are currently compiling a great ape cognition database of experimental studies conducted at the Wolfgang Köhler Primate Research Center since 2001.

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