The Ecology, Cognition, Communication, Emotion lab (eccePAN Lab) focusses on the evolution of the culture and communication to explain the unique characteristics that define humans as a species. Members of the laboratory use techniques and paradigms from comparative and developmental psychology, ethology and behavioral ecology, and neurosciences to investigate various research questions.

The first research question is concerned with understanding differences between human and chimpanzee cultures. To do so, we work in the forests of Western Uganda to describe the unknown cultures, particuarly the tool-using abilities of wild Eastern chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii). We use both observational and experimental methods where we modify the environment an animal encounters in its daily activities. We also investigate the vocal communication of wild chimpanzees, as well as another endemic species, the grey-cheeked mangabey. 

Our second research question aims to investigate the ontogeny of learning processes in  children, in comparison to other apes. To do so, we conduct cognitive experiments in various settings around the planet (Switzerland, France, Croatia, China, Uganda) to understand the mechanisms of social learning. We compare our results with similar experiments conducted with non-human apes.

A final research question is concerned with emotional communication in humans and other great apes. We use experimental and neuroscientific non-invasive paradigms (e.g. fMRI, fNIRS) to understand the brain mechanisms that allow the processing of emotional auditory signals across species. We are particularly interested in the impact of affect on social transmission.

“Only if we understand, will we care.
Only if we care, will we help.
Only if we help shall all be saved.”

Jane Goodall



Thibaud Gruber

Assistant Professor / Lab Director

Liz Ballare

Post Doc

Noémi Detraz

Master Student

Alice Lombardi

Master Student

Gaspar Kammermann

Master Student

Elodie Ryser

Master Student


eccePAN Lab
Centre interfacultaire en sciences affectives (CISA)
Université de Genève
Chemin des Mines 9
CH - 1202 Genève