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The Harvard researcher’s scientific misconduct

August 14, 2010

Tamarins, the misconduct

It may not be the willing of Dr. Marc Hauser, director of Harvard Cognitive Evolution Lab. It may be a surprise for many ones who know Marc in person. It may be also a shock to many cognitive research scientists.

Dr. Marc’s lab was raided three years ago by authorities for collecting the possible evidences of scientific research misconduct for the paper. The person who started to challenge Dr. Marc’s work is Dr. Gordon G. Gallup in department of psychology, University at Albany. Dr. Gordon had the doubt for the capability of tamarins to recognize its face as suggested by Dr. Marc’s paper.

Paper Abstract:

Rule learning by cotton-top tamarins.
Hauser MD, Weiss D, Marcus G.

Department of Psychology and Program in Neurosciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
Previous work suggests that human infants are capable of rapidly generalizing patterns that have been characterized as abstract algebraic rules (Science 283 (1999) 77), a process that may play a pivotal role in language acquisition. Here we explore whether this capacity is uniquely human and evolved specifically for the computational problems associated with language, or whether this mechanism is shared with other species, and therefore evolved for problems other than language. We used the same materials and methods that were originally employed in tests of human infants to assess whether cotton-top tamarin monkeys can extract abstract algebraic rules. Specifically, we habituated subjects to sequences of consonant-vowel syllables that followed one of two patterns, AAB (e.g. wi wi di) or ABB (le we we). Following habituation, we presented subjects with two novel test items, one with the same pattern as that presented during habituation and one with a different pattern. Like human infants, tamarins were more likely to dishabituate to the test item with a different pattern. We conclude that the capacity to generalize rule-like patterns, at least at the level demonstrated, did not evolve specifically for language acquisition, though it remains possible that infants might use such rules during language acquisition.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 5, 2011 10:37 am

    Appreciate the post wonderful work!

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