I ASK A SIMPLE QUESTION:
"WHAT MAKES US HUMAN?"
There might not be a simple answer, but I'll try to do my part.
We propose that many characteristic functions of the human mind, from logical reasoning to managing complex social lives and from tool-use to language, are supported by a basic yet powerful faculty: instant conceptual inference.
Think about how quickly we can learn to understand a sentence such as "That wackadoo takes selfies everywhere" even though this combination of letters has no direct link to the fanatical Facebook and smartphone user it refers to. Where humans excel, apes and monkeys struggle to learn such high-order conceptual relationships. They need hundreds of repetitions before they get it. However... Interestingly, all primates can learn relationships of similar complexity, but of a physical instead of conceptual nature, very efficiently.
By carefully comparing the anatomy of the monkey, ape, and human brain we're testing whether the human capacity of instant conceptual inference relies on novel, perhaps uniquely human, connections between existing brain regions shared across primates.
functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
diffusion magnetic resonance (dMRI) tractography and resting-state fMRI
electro- (EEG) and magneto- (MEG) encephalography
transcranial magnetic (TMS), electric (TCS), and ultrasound (FUN) stimulation
behavioural, cognitive, and neural models of action, communication, and learning
motion analysis of grasping and pointing