Questions tagged [animal-cognition]

The study of cognition in animals other than humans.

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What, if anything, sets humans apart from other species?

As I grew up, I was taught that the difference between humans and animals was that human beings have free will and animals do not. The basis is that animals will act accordingly to the nature of their ...
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How does goal-tracking and sign-tracking behaviour vary across species?

In Pavlonian (classical) conditioning, conditioned responses of an animal may vary. Some animals focus on the unconditioned stimulus (ie. food/location of food) while others may focus on the ...
Vielle's user avatar
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Do only humans spend a lot of time daydreaming (or having "stimulus-independent thoughts")?

A paper Killingsworth et al., A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind, Science 12 November 2010: 932 (or a free pdf) starts with the following statement: Unlike other animals, human beings spend a ...
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What do the super-large brains of whales and elephants map to?

Elephants and whales have brains that are much larger than those of humans. It is presumed that much of their brain is used up for their larger bodies (after all, there is a allometric scaling between ...
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Are there additional animal studies about superstitions?

In one particular case, Skinner decided to go random on his hungry pigeons. He dropped food into the box at completely random times, independent of any behavior on the part of the pigeons. But the ...
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Does dopamine signal become stronger when goal distance is defined using time?

Howe et al (2013) found that a dopamine signal becomes stronger as a goal is approached. The experiment involved rats running in a maze. If the rats were close to solving the maze, the dopamine signal ...
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11 votes
3 answers
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Is it possible to measure the working memory of a non-human animal?

Is it possible to measure the working memory of a non-human animal? And if so, have there been any studies that have quantified the working memory of animals, and that have compared that to the ...
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Does teaching a bird an artificial task like eating from a feeder hurt its performance in the wild?

Can training a wild animal through operant conditioning somehow cause the animal to forget or be unable to perform tasks which it had perviously learned? Is it likely that training wild animals ...
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What causes a person to be curious, inquisitive and explorative?

Why do humans (primates) tend to be curious, inquisitive and explorative? They want to know things that they do not. They explore stuff in an attempt to find something new which makes them ...
Bleeding Fingers's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
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How do animals recognize other animals of their own species?

My motivation for this question is dog-based, but I suppose it would apply equally well to humans. How do animals recognize their own kind, particularly where there is large variation in appearance? ...
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Does an exceptional working memory inhibit intelligence?

According to the Fox News article "Chimps Smarter Than Humans in Memory Test" chimps were able to significantly outperform humans in a simple working memory task. I quote one part of the article in ...
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Non coitus sexual activity and the brain

Most animals will only engage in sexual activity that can result in reproduction. There are some exceptions; Bonobos, for instance, engage in a lot of sexual activity that does not involve coitus. ...
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2 answers
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Why are humans the only species to maintain relationships with other animals simply for pleasure?

In the wild, animals may share waterholes, and grazing areas. Some animals have symbiotic relationships one example being the hippopotamus and the oxpecker bird. The symbiotic relationships are based ...
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1 answer
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How to differentiate attentiveness, arousal and memory via gamma oscillations

I am planning an experiment using mice with in vivo extracellular recordings (and maybe also optogenetic stimulation). In these kinds of experiments, the mouse is getting a reward after executing a (...
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1 answer
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Does introducing an element of play, hunt, or competition make feeding more rewarding?

I have limited experience feeding wildlife, and while it's fun to watch and I'm sure fun for the wildlife too, I'm interested in just how much fun. Is there's any noticeable difference in the ...
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Transsexuality in animals other than humans?

In some research papers, transsexuality is correlated with measurable differences in brain structure. For example: Zhou et al. (1995) inspected the central subdivision of the bed nucleus of the ...
Rebecca J. Stones's user avatar
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1 answer
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Comparative functional neuroanatomy: humans & octopodes

Cephalopod brains are toroidal (high surface area to volume ratios!), with the esophagus passing through the, uh, donut hole; octopodes are very intelligent, particularly spatially. Where can I find ...
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What research has been done on attachment types in other primates?

The most canonical experimental paradigm for studying human attachment styles is the Strange Situation leading to classifications such as Secure, Insecure-avoidant, and so on. What are the equivalent ...
Tom Boardman's user avatar
7 votes
4 answers
290 views

Research on "probabilistic thinking" in non-human animals?

We all seem to have a "probabilistic sense", which manifests itself in certain types of expectations (e.g. even if one has never used a bow to shoot an arrow, one expects that hitting a small target ...
kjo's user avatar
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How to stain for orexin neurons in mice?

I am interested in studying possible depletion of orexin levels in the brains of some mice, and am wondering if anyone knows of a staining substance/technique for use on slices of fixed mouse brains ...
ArtemisPondering's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
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Psychology of Sympathizing with Death

Why do we sympathize in general when we see something or someone dying even if we personally don't know it/them? Is there any species other than humans which sympathize with the death of its own ...
One Face's user avatar
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Which type of stimulus results in an optimal learning curve for rats and mice?

When using operant conditioning to train mice or rats, what type of stimulus is most effective? For example, does a negative reinforcement of a loud noise have a more profound effect than a negative ...
Josh's user avatar
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How does an animal learn what a predator is?

A while ago I heard the following anecdote: "On some tropical island, explorers infested the island with rats that wrecked the native ecosystem. To get rid of rats, people introduced cats that ...
Alex Stone's user avatar
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5 votes
3 answers
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Flow diagram of how information flows through the brain?

I am a Artificial Intelligence researcher with a interest in neuroscience. I was wondering if flow diagrams exist of the way information flows from sensory inputs through the parts of the brain (and ...
Fiorentino's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
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Does empathy extend to animals?

I've read that humans are able to empathize with other humans, to feel as another person does, through mirror neurons. I'm guessing that they're able to empathize with primates too, as they share ...
Muz's user avatar
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1 answer
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How is sample size determined in animal research?

In human research, we define our universe and estimate the effect size we expect to observe, then we can draw the a sample of a given size. How is sample size determined for experiments in the animal ...
Henrique Gomide's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
418 views

Can animals develop mental disorders that are unique or similar to our own?

I just had a discussion with someone about mental illnesses in people (specifically talking about Capgraw delusion, alien hand syndrome, and walking corpse syndrome) and how some people's lives can be ...
Aaron's user avatar
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1 answer
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John Calhoun's Mouse Utopia and Genetic Diversity

I learned about John Calhoun's Mouse Utopia experiment from this Youtube video. The corresponding 1962 paper isn't readily available. What I want to know is, did Calhoun account for genetic diversity ...
MackTuesday's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
25k views

Curt Richter's rat hope experiment: Why did the first nine rats survive for days?

I can understand the part that the experimenter saved the rat just before it was about to die and then the rat lasted longer for the next drowning. But I do not understand what it means that before ...
Damn Vegetables's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
159 views

Binocular rivalry in animals?

Are there any experiments on binocular rivalry in animals? (In humans, brain responses to Rubin's vase are for example well studied.)
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Other studies of animals with sign language

Dr. Francine Patterson taught a modified form of sign language to Koko, a western lowland gorilla. Much media attention has been focused on Koko, especially after her death, and Patterson herself ...
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0 answers
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What are the most well-understood vocal animal languages? [closed]

There are many examples of animal language that involve vocal pattens or "grammar". For example, there is the the Bee dance, bird songs, whale songs, dogs. Bird vocalization includes both bird calls ...
Osiris Xu's user avatar
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2 answers
701 views

Have IQ-type measures been tried for other animals?

Despite the obvious difficulties pertaining to definition and measurement, and the various controversies surrounding the use of IQ-type scores in human beings, it seems unquestionable that there are ...
David Holden's user avatar
3 votes
3 answers
200 views

What are the effects of implanting electrodes into the brains of monkeys?

If one implants electrodes into a monkey's brain in order to allow the monkey to control a mechanical arm, then is the monkeys able to move both it's natural and it's mechanical arms at once? What ...
InquilineKea's user avatar
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3 votes
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How did the unique features of human intelligence evolve?

I have been debating the following topic with a friend. She argues that humans do not descend from chimpanzees or orang-utans, because if we did, such animals would share the same cognitive thinking ...
Eric Frick's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
92 views

Do my cats really know I exist?

I wonder if my cat really knows me as an individual or just a mysterious connected object that somehow has hands and legs attached to a body. When I pet him, does he know that this action originates ...
user559678's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
191 views

What, other than humans, can possess an IQ? [closed]

Dolphins and some birds (crows and parrots for example) are considered to be 'smart'. This made me thinking - What animals, other than humans, can possess an IQ, perhaps even at a very low level?
H chalmers's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
180 views

Which animals are thought to possess some degree of a theory of mind?

Most dog owners would insist that their dogs have a strong theory of mind, and I have read abstracts that support this idea - for instance, a dog who knows better than to snatch a piece of forbidden ...
Wad Cheber's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
332 views

Do beavers make dams purely by instinct?

Do beavers use cognitive moves, learning, memory or skill acquisition in their life to build better? Or do they simply repeat instinctive gestures and end up with stereotyped architecture always?
Manoj Praveen G's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
126 views

Is there any animal, which knows it will die?

In light of the Cambridge Declaration of Consciousness, are there any animals, which are aware that they will die?
M3RS's user avatar
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4 answers
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If a human brain would be placed inside that of an animal: Could it talk?

Assumption: Animals can't talk 'human' because of their small(er) brain. Perhaps a strange thought, but I was really wondering: If we could place a human brain inside that of an animal: Would we be ...
Sander Schaeffer's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
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Which study proved that macaques were superior to humans in recalling in which some items appeared?

Which studies proved that macaques were superior to humans in recalling in which a sequence of items appeared? I saw a video which reported on an experiment using computers, macaques and humans, I ...
J..y B..y's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
72 views

Does my cat ever "want" something or its behavior is mostly reactive?

A few days ago I and my spouse were trying to convince our male cat to come and sit next to us on the sofa. Our cat seemed undecided between staying and coming and my spouse mentioned that he does ...
Alexei's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
172 views

Why do larger animals need bigger brains?

For example, we can assume that the average house cat is equally intelligent as the average tiger. The average tiger is about 100 times heavier than the average house cat. But its brain is also bigger ...
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2 votes
1 answer
226 views

Annoyance in animals

When my dog (an English Cocker Spaniel, for what its worth) is behind some glass (e.g. a glass door or a car window) and someone taps on the glass, even just a little bit, she gets into a fit of rage. ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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Animal perception of animal vs. inanimate objects

I've always been baffled by the fact that safari vehicles are open to the elements. There are plenty of examples of lions approaching the cars and yet barely noticing the potential human preys seated ...
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0 answers
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What is the name of this experiment that showed that humans are innately inclined to ask questions?

Years ago I watched a documentary that was about how humans are unique compared to other animals. In it they highlighted an experiment that was done on both human toddlers and chimpanzees. The ...
Genevieve's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
63 views

Does a research area such as Psycho-Agronomy, Agro-Psychology exist?

Are there researchers studying how to apply (other animal than human) psychology to agronomy, and does such a research area has a name (and which one)? Such a name would help in finding existing ...
J..y B..y's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
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Spider removing a piece of grass from its web -- very different behavior second time -- why?

This was an experiment I performed so no link to the event nor the scientist's interpretation which was in an old email I no longer have access to. The first time, the spider cautiously approached the ...
releseabe's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
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Ethical testing of (poor) abilities in animals other than humans?

QUESTION: Does the problem of measuring the ability of a subject (e.g. an other than human animal) to perform a task has a name? Are there standard methodologies to do so ethically, especially when ...
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