Dr Diana Reiss

Diana Reiss is a professor of psychology at Hunter College and in the graduate program of Biopsychology and Behavioral Neuroscience of the City University of New York. Reiss's research has focused on understanding cognition and communication in dolphins and other cetaceans. She has done work in mirror self-recognition of such animals, as well as in elephants. In her TEDtalk 'Reflections of Other Minds' she will talk about the fact that dolphins and elephants, like us, are large brained and highly social species. Dr Reiss and her colleagues have exposed dolphins and elephants to a simple device, a mirror, and in turn they have demonstrated that like, us, they pass the mark test, recognize themselves in a mirror and subsequently use the mirror as a tool for viewing themselves. Prior to these findings, mirror self-recognition was a cognitive ability thought to be a unique to humans and our closest relatives the great apes. Generally, the team accepts and highly values translational science as it refers to the application of scientific discoveries to medical or other practical uses. An overlooked but critical alternative view of translational science is the application of scientific discoveries to policy decisions. Specifically, the demonstration of self-awareness and other forms of high cognitive functioning of other species should lead to enlightened conservation and welfare policies. Importantly, scientific knowledge transcends national and cultural boundaries and therefore policy decisions should be implemented on a global level.