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Michele Schubiger

Research Fellow

  • 4 Citations
  • 1 h-Index
20162019
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Personal profile

Personal profile

I am a comparative psychologist interested in the mechanisms of the primate mind and how they may have evolved. My research interests include cognitive abilties that help non-human primates to understand the physical world (such as causal inference, meta-cognition and planning) and the social world (such as reading other's intentions and emotions and cooperation).

Currently, I am a Research Fellow in Primate Cognition in the Division of Psychology at Abertay University working on a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust in which I study the effect of social and practical experience on tool manipulation skills in gibbons, the small apes, using a combined approach of observations and cognitive experiments.

Before joining Abertay University, I conducted cognitive and behavioural studies with humans, great apes (orang-utans, gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos), and New World monkeys (marmosets, squirrel monkeys and capuchin monkeys). My research has mainly been focused on evaluating and conducting cognitive tests assessing physical cognition such as causality understanding, inferential reasoning, inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility, representation of numbers, and memory, as well as observational studies of social behaviour.

I am interested in both within-species comparisons (e.g. individual differences in general intelligence) and between-species comparisons (e.g. closely related species that differ in brain size and social system) and in identifying internal factors (e.g. motivation and emotion) and external factors (e.g. task format) that potentially influence cognitive performance.

My PhD project in Comparative Psychology at the Department of Anthropology at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, aimed at optimising tests of primate cognition.

I obtained an undergradutate degree in Psychology at the University of Vienna, Austria and a postgraduate degree in Psychology & Zoology at the University of Basel, Switzerland. During and after my Master's degree, I worked as a Research Assistant in several projects in Comparative Psychology, Neuropsychology and sleep studies.

Research interests

I am a comparative psychologist interested in the mechanisms of the primate mind and how they may have evolved. My research interests include cognitive abilties that help non-human primates to understand the physical world (such as causal inference, meta-cognition and planning) and the social world (such as reading other's intentions and emotions and cooperation). 

Currently, I am a Research Fellow in the Division of Psychology at Abertay University, studying the effect of social and practical experience on tool manipulation skills in gibbons, the small apes, using a combined approach of observations and cognitive experiments.

Funding

Personal funding

2016 

Support of travel costs for the XXVI Congress of the International Primatological Society in Chicago, A.H. Schultz-Stiftung, Zurich, Switzerland, CHF 1’000.

2015

Follow-up experiments and data analysis with squirrel monkeys, A.H. Schultz-Stiftung, Zurich, Switzerland, CHF 4’500.

2014

Follow-up experiments and data analysis with marmosets, A.H. Schultz-Stiftung, Zurich, Switzerland, CHF 9’000.

Group funding

2014

Coop-Peer-Action (CPA) peer-mentoring group, funding period 2014, Graduate Campus, University of Zurich, Switzerland, CHF 10’000.

2013

Interdisciplinary PhD workshop “Have we lost our minds – A controversy between Philosophy and Science”, Graduate Campus, University of Zurich, Switzerland, CHF 10’000.

CPA peer-mentoring group, funding period 2013, Graduate Campus, University of Zurich, Switzerland, CHF 10’000.

Esteem

Memberships

Since 2016 Primate Society of Great Britain

Since 2013 Vice-Director, World Ape Fund

Since 2012 International Primatological Society

Knowledge and Exchange

I was a co-leader (2013 - 2014) and active member (2012 - 2015) of the Coop-Peer-Action group (CPA), a peer-mentoring group of female doctoral and postdoctoral researchers from several research groups at the Universities of Zurich and Basel, working on behavioural projects related to cooperation.

Main goal: Promoting academic career development and compatibility of family and work.

Activities: Annual writing retreat, research workshops, and special events such as a writing course and inviting experts.

Funding body: Graduate Campus, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Scientific advisors:

Prof. Redouan Bshary,  Intitute of Biology, Behavioural Ecology, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

Prof. Barbara König, Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Prof. Marta Manser, Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Prof. Carel van Schaik, Department of Anthropology, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Outreach

Organising research workshops

Interdisciplinary 3-day-workshop: 'Have we lost our minds – a controversy between Science and Philosophy' (November, 2014). Planned and held in collaboration with PhD students of Philosophy, Anthropology, and Neuroscience, Graduate Campus, University of Zurich.

Half-day follow-up workshop: 'Evolution of Mind - what have we learned?' (October, 2013). Planned and held for Coop-Peer-Action group, Irchel Campus, University of Zurich.

One-day workshop titled 'Evolution of Mind - General Intelligence & Modularity' (July, 2012). Planned and held with Dr. JM Burkart for Coop-Peer-Action group, Irchel Campus, University of Zurich.

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Research Output 2016 2019

  • 4 Citations
  • 1 h-Index
  • 2 Article
2 Downloads (Pure)

Does opportunistic testing bias cognitive performance in primates? Learning from drop-outs

Schubiger, M. N., Kissling, A. & Burkart, J. M., 20 Mar 2019, In : PLoS One. 14, 3, 22 p., e0213727.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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4 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)

How task format affects cognitive performance: a memory test with two species of New World monkeys

Schubiger, M. N., Kissling, A. & Burkart, J. M., 13 Sep 2016, In : Animal Behaviour. 121, p. 33-39 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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