Home   Publication   Comparative cognitive development.

Tetsuro Matsuzawa

Comparative cognitive development.

Developmental Science, 10, 97–103, doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2007.00570.x


This paper aims to compare cognitive development in humans and chimpanzees to illuminate the evolutionary origins of human cognition. Comparison of morphological data and life history strongly highlights the common features of all primate species, including humans. The human mother–infant relationship is characterized by the physical separation of mother and infant, and the stable supine posture of infants, that enables vocal exchange, face-to-face communication, and manual gestures. The cognitive development of chimpanzees was studied using the participation observation method. It revealed that humans and chimpanzees show similar development until 3 months of age. However, chimpanzees have a unique type of social learning that lacks the social reference observed in human children. Moreover, chimpanzees have unique immediate short-term memory capabilities. Taken together, this paper presents a plausible evolutionary scenario for the uniquely human characteristics of cognition.