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Funded by: the European Community, 6th Framework Programme

Partners: Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies - CNR - Rome (Italy), University of London (UK), INCM-CNRS (France), University of Portsmouth (UK), MPI-EVA (Germany), Lund University (Sweden)

Timeframe: 2005-2008

Web site:

Description: the project investigated the developmental and comparative distribution of sign use to determine what makes humans unique in the animal kingdom.

Research in the last decades has established significant continuities between humans and non human species, particularly primates. Nevertheless, when it comes to determining what makes humans unique, it is often claimed that there is one ability – language – that makes human beings special. However, it could be argued that there are more basic differences between our species and others. The main hypothesis of the project SEDSU is that it is not language per se, but an advanced ability to engage in sign use that constitutes the characteristic feature of human beings. In particular, this implies the ability to differentiate between the sign itself, be it gesture, picture, word or abstract symbol, and what it represents, i.e. the sign function, and thus to use (the same) sign systems for both communication and cognition. The aim of the project was to investigate the developmental and comparative distribution of sign use thanks to the collaboration of an interdisciplinary research group involving developmental and cognitive psychologists, linguists, philosophers, primatologists, and semioticians.

 ico Bullet Scientific publications

bandiera italia  L'uso nei segni nei primati umani e non umani

Unit of Cognitive Primatology - tutte le immagini del sito sono protette da copyright 
Unit of Cognitive Primatology: all images are copyrighted