The Comparative Cognition Laboratory is a part of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at The University of Iowa. Our research concerns the experimental investigation of cognitive processes in adaptive behavior, with an overarching interest in comparing cognition in humans and nonhuman animals. Specific research topics include: category learning, cognitive flexibility, and same-different conceptualization. The evidence that we collect constantly surprises us and forces us to view human cognition in a fresh light. 

News and Announcements

New Article in Current Biology

Monday, January 30, 2023
Wasserman, E. A., Kain, A. G., & O’Donoghue, E. M. (2023, March issue). Resolving the associative learning paradox by category learning in pigeons. Current Biology.

Learn more about it in our special section (see right). Do not miss the video!
pigeon and task visual

Resolving the Associative Learning Paradox

How powerful is associative learning? On the one hand, it powers amazing feats of artificial intelligence. On the other hand, it is deemed to be a simple and limited form of animal and human learning.

In the March 2023 issue of Current Biology, Wasserman et al. show that, via associative learning, pigeons learn a novel categorization task that can stump more sophisticated forms of learning.

butterfly stroke Sieg

A Deep Dive into Innovation

Groundbreaking innovations may appear to be strokes of genius, but they are most often the product of context, consequence, and coincidence.

In The American Scientist (Jan-Feb 2023 issue) Ed Wasserman writes about how creative behaviors develop and how the invention of the butterfly stroke provides a case study for how an action that might seem natural was in fact developed (in Iowa!) through trial and error.

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