Department of Psychology  
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Robert Cook
Contact Info
Department of Psychology
Tufts University
Psychology Building
Room 106
Medford, MA 02155

Lab Website
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Tel: 617-627-2546
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Professor of Psychology
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1983

Biography

Dr. Cook has studied animal cognition and behavior for over twenty-five years. His NSF-supported comparative research has focused extensively on stimulus control, discrimination learning, and memory in animals. He is chair and a Full Professor in the Psychology Department at Tufts University. He received his BS in Psychology from the Ohio State University and his Ph.D in Biopsychology from the University of California, Berkeley. He was also an NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston before his position at Tufts. He is currently the co-editor of Comparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews and has been on the editorial board of the top journals in animal cognition. He has also been very active in broadening the impact and public visibility of the area's scientific work by use of the Internet with the publication of the multimedia cyberbooks Avian Visual Cognition and Animal Spatial Cognition.

Dr. Cook's research interests are in the general area of comparative animal cognition. In particular, he has been very interested in the mechanisms of visual perception and discrimination learning in pigeons, and their comparative relations to our own perception of the world. Birds generally behave as if they perceive, learn, and act upon an object-filled visual world. The ultimate goal of his research is to understand how these small autonomous systems form accurate perceptions of the visual world and use this information to learn about and predict relations among real world objects and events. Dr. Cook's research examines these questions by looking at the visual and cognitive mechanisms of one highly visual non-mammalian system -- the pigeon. Pigeons are ideal for comparative cognitive studies because the demands to minimize body weight for flight have caused them to evolve small, compact, and powerful central nervous systems capable of exceptional visual perception and the learning of complex discriminations, but that are organized very differently from well studied mammalian systems (i.e., rats, cats, monkeys). His projects have looked at same-different concept learning, equivalence class formation, object perception, picture perception, motion perception, texture perception, the serial organization of behavior and neural mechanisms underlying these behaviors

Students are always welcomed to get involved with his research through an independent research course or on a volunteer basis.  If interested, please contact him by e-mail at Robert.Cook@tufts.edu.

Further information about the lab can be found at www.pigeon.psy.tufts.edu.

Representative Publications

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