Anna Gergely

Contacts

Phone: +36 1 382 6810
Institute: Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology
Group: Psychobiology Research Group
Office: D4.05A

Curriculum vitae

Personal data

  • Name:               Anna Gergely
  • Date of Birth:   01/09/1987
  • Nationality:      Hungarian

Education

  • 2014                 PhD, Eötvös Lóránd University, Institute of Biology, Biology Doctorate School, Ethology Doctorate Program
  • 2011                 Biologist MSc, Eötvös Lóránd University, Institute of Biology, Ecology and Conservation Biology Specialization
  • 2009                 Biologist BSc, Szent István University Faculty of Veterinary Science, Budapest, Behavioral Biology Specialization
  • 2006                 Baccalaureate, Advanded Biology Class, Táncsics Mihály High School, Kaposvár

Work experiences and scientific activity

  • 2015 –              Research fellow, Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
  • 2015 –              Guest Research fellow, Eötvös Lóránd University, Institute of Biology, Department of Ethology
  • 2014 –              Lecturer, Ethology and Humanethology courses, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest
  • 2011 – 2014    PhD student, Eötvös Lóránd University, Institute of Biology, Department of Ethology
  • 2009 – 2011    MSc diploma worker, Eötvös Lóránd University, Institute of Biology, Department of Ethology
  • 2007 – 2009    BSc diploma worker, Eötvös Lóránd University, Institute of Biology, Department of Ethology

Scholarships

  • October 2016 – February 2021      National Research, Development and Innovation Fund, Postdoctoral Excellence Program
  • February 2011 – December 2014  PhD Position, Swiss National Science Foundation: Sinergia (Swarmix) project (EHTZ, EPFL, IDSIA, ELTE)
  • September – December 2010        Regular Scientific Fellowship, Eötvös Lóránd University
  • October 2009                                    Single Scientific Fellowship, Eötvös Lóránd University

Awards

  • 2011                   National Students’ Scientific Conference of Biology, Section of Ethology, Eötvös Lóránd University, Institute of Biology, First Place
  • 2010                   Students’ Scientific Conference of Biology, Section of Ethology, Eötvös Lóránd University, Institute of Biology, First Place
  • 2008                   Students’ Scientific Conference of Biology, Section of Ethology, Eötvös Lóránd University, Institute of Biology, Second Place
  • 2008                   Students’ Scientific Conference, Szent István University Faculty of Veterinary Science, Second Place

Languages

  • English – Intermediate level (B2 degree, complex, 2004)
  • French – Basic level (B1 degree, complex, 2014), Intermediate level (B2 degree, writing, 2014)

Educational activity

2014 –                           Ethology and Humanethology courses (in Hungarian), Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest

Research topics

Responsiveness to social addressing signals in dogs and humans: a comparative approach
National Research, Development and Innovation Fund, Postdoctoral Excellence Program (NKFIH PD 121038)

The purpose of the proposed project is the exploratory investigation of social responsiveness to a special social addressing signal, the so-called motherese, in dogs and humans. In series of experiments we utilize an integrative approach in order to investigate similarities and differences between humans’ and dogs’ sensitivity and reactivity to motherese. Combining modern neurocognitive methods with ’traditional’ behaviour observations we will able to compare not just behaviour, but also the underlying mechanisms behind these social skills in dogs and humans in a well-designed and controlled experimental framework. Moreover it can also improve our understanding of the human-like social competence in dogs. We aim to further elaborate on non-invasive neurocoscience methods in dogs and humans of different ages to study also the development of such social competence in both species.

The aim of the present study is to compare social responsiveness to social addressing and underlying mechanisms in dogs and humans of different ages (infants, children, adults). Our first question is whether dogs show human-analogue differential responsivity to vocal signals that are characterized by special acoustic parameters. This question will be examined at the level of effortful (touchscreen) and automatic (eye tracking) behaviours and also at the level of neural activation (EEG, fMRI). As a next step, we ask if similar behavioural and neural analogies can be found using more naturalistic setups in which verbal addressing signals (high-pitched dog/infant directed intonation pattern) will be complemented with other ostensive communicative signals.

In the past decade the domestic dog has become one of the most important model for human social behaviour and cognition. Now it is widely accepted that as a result of the process of domestication dogs possess functionally ‘human-like’ socio-cognitive abilities, which allow them to live effectively together with humans in their environment and paved the way for the emergence of an evolutionary novel, inter-specific social competence. Recent evidence also suggests that dogs parallel human infants in their sensitivity to such ‘ostensive’ cues that signal the human’s communicative intention. Although ostensive-addressing verbal cues are most commonly used as a means to capture attention and control the dog’s responses, we currently know very little about how dogs actually perceive human speech signals. Therefore, it has become increasingly clear that there is a compelling need for a more systematic investigation of the cognitive mechanisms underlying dogsʼ human speech perception. Based on the above findings we emphasise that the elaboration of electrophysiological and neuroimaging methods in the present proposal may provide new insights into dogs’ socio-cognitive skills in dog-human comparative investigations.

Comparative approach is fast becoming an exciting topic in behavioural and cognitive sciences as it provides a comprehensive framework for understanding the evolutionary origins of social skills in both humans and nonhuman animals. In the last decade the domestic dog has been proposed to be an ideal model for human social cognition due to the fact that it shared environment with humans for a long time and this resulted in various forms of human-like social competence. The general aim of this research project is to investigate the basic similarities and differences between humans’ and dogs’ sensitivity and reactivity to verbal addressing signals and significantly advance our understanding of how domestic dogs perceive human speech. In our research agenda, we innovatively combine traditional behavioural observations with modern neurocognitive methods (fMRI, EEG) which allow us to study and compare underlying mechanisms behind such social skills in dogs and humans of different ages. The results will bring us closer to unravelling those hidden processes that underlie the parallel evolution of the social-cognition in dogs and humans.

List of publications

List of publications
X