As I see it, Comparative Psychology is
really just a fancy term for acknowledging that the
relevance of Psychology goes well beyond the species homo
sapiens. The key underlying assumption is that brains
and minds are subject to the same principles of Darwinian
evolution that other organs and physical features are, and
undergo the same kinds of gradual adaptations. Most of my
research has been on pigeons and how their perceptual and
memory abilities compare to those of other animals. This
tells me some interesting things about pigeons, but more
importantly, it also illuminates some general features of
minds and brains outside of any species-specific
Want more specifics?
To me, some of the most
fascinating questions in Psychology are physiological ones:
How can complex actions can arise from the relatively simple
functions of individual neurons? What is the relationship
between the mental and physical worlds? I find that physiologically-based theories help me generate new ideas for my own comparative research.
One of my first interests in Psychology was
the study of human language and thought. I still spend lots
of time thinking about such things, and cognitive psychology
has been fertile ground for new ideas in comparative and
physiological psychology. I am specifically interested in
memory and concept learning, especially where they overlap
with my other areas of interest.
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