Research Fellows Directory
Dr Shreejata Gupta
University of York
My primary research interest is to understand the cognition underlying primate communication. One influential and powerful line of evidence for understanding language evolution is provided by comparative research on the communicative abilities of non-human primates (primates). My previous research has focussed on gestural communication in an Old World monkey species, the bonnet macaque. Most animals, including humans and other primates communicate with a wide variety of signal types in a number of different modalities and often combine unimodal (UM) signals (e.g. vocalisations, gestures) to form multimodal (MM) signals. Yet, comparative research on primate communication, including my own previous research generally focuses on vocalisations, facial expressions and gestures in isolation. There is growing acknowledgement of the need for a more integrated, multimodal approach to studying primate communication.For my current research I shall adopt a MM approach to primate communication in order not to overlook complexity, particularly the potential for signal combinations to convey different meanings to the component signals. MM signal production has been documented in our closest living relatives, chimpanzees, yet the function of these signals is unknown. In collaboration with Dr Katie Slocombe at the York University, I will address this by experimentally testing the functions of MM signals in captive chimpanzees. Our findings will be highly relevant for understanding language evolution.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)