Tomas Persson is born and bred outside of Gothenburg in Sweden. He studied mainly psychology at Lund University, Sweden, and physical anthropology at University College London, Great Britain, before conducting his PhD in cognitive science at Lund University. He finished in 2008 on the topic of pictorial abilities in great apes and other animals. He has researched great apes in the Netherlands, the USA, Denmark, and Sweden.
As a PhD student he co-founded Lund University Primate Research Station Furuvik, for which he has been Scientific Director for several years. His cognitive research on animals can be summarized as picture comprehension, planning abilities, and contagious behaviors. The latter, such as yawning contagion, has also been studied in other mammals than great apes. Outside of animal cognition he has been involved in research on the development of representational abilities in human infants, and lately he has branched out to archaelogy and Scandinavian rock art research.
Besides research he has taught animal cognition to students and spent considerable time on administration as Head of Department of Philosophy at Lund University.