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Department of Evolutionary Anthropology

Michèle Schubiger

Michèle Schubiger, Dr.

Research interests

I am a comparative psychologist interested in the mechanisms of the primate mind and how they may have evolved. I have conducted behavioural and cognitive studies with humans and our closest living relatives, the great apes, and I am currently working with our more distant relatives, the New World primates.

My PhD project mainly focuses on the cognitive differences between individuals of one primate species, the common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus). The main question is whether some individuals perform generally better than others in a wide range of cognitive tests that are designed to measure several independent cognitive abilities. This variation between individuals is termed the general intelligence factor g, and it has been identified in humans, rodents and another New World primate, the cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus).

In order to investigate if g exists in marmosets, I have been testing individuals with a range of tests that aim to measure cognitive abilities, such as inhibitory control and memory. I am also investigating the validity of such tests to ensure that they truly measure the cognitive abilities under question rather than non-cognitive individual differences. The cognitive abilities of squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) are also being assessed with some of the tests, which allows me to conduct comparisons between two closely related species.

Zurich Open Repository and Archive

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Schubiger MN, Kissling A, Burkart JM (2019) Does opportunistic testing bias cognitive performance in primates? Learning from drop-outs. PLoS ONE 14(3): e0213727. 

Brugger P, Schubiger M, Loetscher T (2010). Leftwards bias in number space is modulated by magical ideaton. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology 23(2):119-23.

Loetscher T, Schwarz U, Schubiger M, Brugger P (2008). Head turns bias the brain's internal random generator. Current Biology 18(2): R60-2.