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Prof Richard Byrne

rwb

Emeritus Professor

fax +44 01334 463042
email rwb@st-andrews.ac.uk
Full research profile


Biography

I went to the University of Cambridge to study Natural Sciences, intending to specialize in physics. Taking psychology as a minor subject, I found it fascinating (and easier!), and ended up with that as my main topic and Donald Broadbent as my project supervisor. I went on to do a PhD under John Morton's supervision at the MRC Applied Psychology Unit, Cambridge, on the topic of the use of memory in everyday planning. From there, I came straight to St Andrews and have stayed ever since: instead of moving universities, I moved topics, first to primate behavioural ecology, later to cognitive evolution, including shared abilities with our closest relatives (great apes) and convergent capacities of distantly related species (pigs, elephants).

Research overview

Professor Byrne studies the evolution of cognitive and social behaviour, particularly the origins of distinctively human characteristics. Current projects focus on the gestural communication of the great apes, and on the social cognition of the African elephant. Previous work has included tactical deception in primates and its relationship to brain size and intelligence, welfare-related studies of cognition in the domestic pig, and the analysis of social learning and imitation. " (See https://sites.google.com/site/rwbyrnepsychology/publication-downloads for papers.) Postgraduates under his supervision have recently worked on gestural communication in chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans; elephant social cognition; great ape manual feeding techniques, including the effect of disability on chimpanzee behaviour; and cognitive maps and travel coordination in monkeys and apes. Professor Byrne was awarded the British Psychology Society Book Award 1997 for his O.U.P. monograph "The Thinking Ape

Highlighted publications

Noser, R & Byrne, RW 2015, 'Wild chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) remember single foraging episodes' Animal Cognition, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 921-929. DOI: 10.1007/s10071-015-0862-4
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-015-0862-4
Full text: http://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/bitstream/10023/8547/1/2105_NoserByrne_baboon_episode_memory_final_draft.pdf
2015

Byrne, RW 2015, 'The what as well as the why of animal fun' Current Biology, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. R2-R4. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.09.008
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.09.008
Full text: http://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/bitstream/10023/7953/1/2015_Byrne_animal_fun_pre_pub_ms.pdf
2015

Smet, AF & Byrne, RW 2014, 'African elephants (Loxodonta africana) recognize visual attention from face and body orientation' Biology Letters, vol. 10, no. 7, 0428. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0428
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2014.0428
Full text: http://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/bitstream/10023/6955/1/smet2014biologylett0428.pdf
2014

Hobaiter, C & Byrne, RW 2014, 'The meanings of chimpanzee gestures' Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.05.066
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.05.066
Full text: http://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/bitstream/10023/4954/2/Hobaiter_2014_CurrBio_TheMeanings_supplement.pdf
2014

Full research profile

Personal websites

http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/psychology/research/sprg/index.htm