2nd Kyoto University-Inamori Foundation Joint Kyoto Prize Symposium
July 11-12, 2015
Theme “Technology / Genetic Science / Arts” - Tracing the Path of Evolution, in Holistic Contemplation of Present and Future Civilization - (Finished)

Satoshi Hirata
Biological Sciences

Satoshi Hirata

Professor, Wildlife Research Center, Kyoto University
・Comparative Cognitive Science

Title of Presentation

“Understanding social intelligence in chimpanzees and bonobos – A quest for the evolutionary origins of the human mind”

Chimpanzees and bonobos are the evolutionarily closest primates to humans, and thus research on these apes helps us to understand the origins of human nature. Homo sapiens, the scientific name for Human Beings, means “wise man” in Latin. How, then, did we become “wise?” The social intelligence hypothesis claims that the evolution of intelligence is driven by the needs of living in a complex social world where an individual is faced with various social problems, such as competition, cooperation, and conflict resolution. I have been exploring social intelligence in apes by creating various social situations experimentally. In a cooperative task, for example, I presented pairs of chimpanzees with a task in which they were required to each pull one end of the same rope simultaneously to drag targets into reach. The chimpanzees were able to learn to successfully coordinate their behavior. I have also introduced a number of advanced technologies -such as eye-tracking, event-related potential measurements, and ultrasound sonography- in studies of the apes’ cognition and behavior from a comparative perspective. We are able to understand the evolutionary origins of human nature through those comparative studies of chimpanzees and bonobos.

Presentation Movie


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A brief Biography

Birth day: June 7, 1973

1996 March: Graduated the Faculty of Science, Kyoto University
2001 March: Graduated the Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University
2001 March: D. Sci from Kyoto University
2001 April – 2002 April: JSPS Research Fellow (PD)
2002 May – 2008 March: Head Researcher, Great Ape Research Institute of Hayashibara Biomedical Laboratories, Inc.
2008 April – 2011 August: Chief Scientist, Great Ape Research Institute of Hayashibara Biomedical Laboratories, Inc.
2011 September – 2013 August: Program-Specific Associate Professor, Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University
2013 September – present: Professor, Wildlife Research Center of Kyoto University
Details of selected Awards and Honors
2009 Takashima Award of the Primate Society of Japan
2010 JPA (Japanese Psychological Association) Award for International Contributions to Psychology
2012 JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) Prize
2012 Japan Academy Medal
A list of selected Publications

1. Hirata, S., Matsuda, G., Ueno, A., Fukushima, H., Fuwa, K., Sugama, K., Kusunoki, K., Hiraki, K., Tomonaga, M., & Hasegawa, T. (2013) Brain response to affective pictures in the chimpanzee. Scientific Reports, 3, 1342.

2. Sakai T, Hirata S, Fuwa K, Sugama K, Kusunoki K, Makishima H, Eguchi T, Yamada S, Ogihara N, & Takeshita H. (2012). Fetal brain development in chimpanzees versus humans. Current Biology, 22(18), R791-792.

3. Myowa-Yamakoshi, M., Scola, C., & Hirata, S. (2012) Humans and chimpanzees attend differently to goal-directed actions. Nature Communications, 3, 693

4. Hirata, S., Matsuda, G., Ueno, A., Fuwa, K., Sugama, K., Kusunoki, K., Fukushima, H., Hiraki, K., Tomonaga, M., & Hasegawa, T. (2011) Event-related potentials in response to subjects’ own names: A comparison between humans and a chimpanzee. Communicative & Integrative Biology,
4(3), 321-323.

5. Hirata, S., Fuwa, K., Sugama, K., Kusunoki, K., & Takeshita, H.. (2011) Mechanism of birth in chimpanzees: humans are not unique among primates. Biology Letters, 7, 686-688.

6. Hirata, S., Fuwa, K., Sugama, K., Kusunoki, K., & Fujita, S. (2010) Facial perception of conspecifics: chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) attend to proper orientation and open eyes. Animal Cognition, 13, 679-688.

7. Hirata, S., Morimura, N., & Houki, C. (2009) How to crack nuts: acquisition process in captive chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) observing a model. Animal Cognition, 12, S87-S101.

8. Hirata, S. (2009) Chimpanzee social intelligence: selfishness, altruism, and the mother-infant bond. Primates, 50, 3-11.

9. Hirata, S. (2007) A note on the responses of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) to live self-images on television monitors. Behavioral Processes, 75, 85-90.

10. Hirata, S. & Fuwa, K. (2007) Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) learn to act with other individuals in a cooperative task. Primates, 48, 13-21.

11. Hirata, S. & Celli, M. L. (2003) Role of mothers in the acquisition of tool-use behaviours by captive infant chimpanzees. Animal Cognition, 6, 235-244.

12. Hirata, S., Yamakoshi, G., Fujita, S., Ohashi, G., & Matsuzawa, T. (2001) Capturing and toying with hyraxes (Dendrohyrax dorsalis) by wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) at Bossou, Guinea. American Journal of Primatology, 53, 93-97.

13. Hirata, S., & Matsuzawa, T. (2001) Tactics to obtain a hidden food item in chimpanzee pairs (Pan troglodytes). Animal Cognition, 4, 285-295.

14. Hirata, S., & Morimura, N. (2000) Naive chimpanzees’ (Pan troglodytes) observation of experienced conspecifics in a tool-using task. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 114, 291-296.

15. Hirata, S., Myowa, M., & Matsuzawa, T. (1998) Use of leaves as cushions to sit on wet ground by wild chimpanzees. American Journal of Primatology 44, 215-220.