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Animal cognition - do we underestimate our furry friends?

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posted on May, 16 2013 @ 04:22 AM
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Animal cognition

Introduction
Our current understanding of primates cognitive abilities is as follows:



Asking questions and giving negative answers
In the 1970s and the 1980s there had been suggestions that apes are unable to ask questions and to give negative answers. According to the numerous published studies apes are able to answer human questions, and the vocabulary of the acculturated apes contains question words. Despite these abilities, according to the published research literature, apes are not able to ask questions themselves, and in human-primate conversations questions are asked by the humans only. Ann and David Premacks designed a potentially promising methodology to teach apes to ask questions in the 1970s: “In principle interrogation can be taught either by removing an element from a familiar situation in the animal’s world or by removing the element from a language that maps the animal’s world. It is probable that one can induce questions by purposefully removing key elements from a familiar situation. Suppose a chimpanzee received its daily ration of food at a specific time and place, and then one day the food was not there. A chimpanzee trained in the interrogative might inquire ‘Where is my food?’ or, in Sarah’s case, ‘My food is ?’ Sarah was never put in a situation that might induce such interrogation because for our purposes it was easier to teach Sarah to answer questions”.

A decade later Premacks wrote: "Though she [Sarah] understood the question, she did not herself ask any questions -- unlike the child who asks interminable questions, such as What that? Who making noise? When Daddy come home? Me go Granny's house? Where puppy? Sarah never delayed the departure of her trainer after her lessons by asking where the trainer was going, when she was returning, or anything else".

Despite all their achievements, Kanzi and Panbanisha also have not demonstrated the ability to ask questions so far. Joseph Jordania suggested that the ability to ask questions could be the crucial cognitive threshold between human and ape mental abilities. Jordania suggested that asking questions is not a matter of the ability of using syntactic structures, that it is primarily a matter of cognitive ability. Questions can be (and are) asked without the use of syntactic structures, with the help of the questions intonation only (like this is the case in children's early pre-linguistic development).
Primate cognition


The cognitive ability to ask questions is developed in humans around age four. Before that, we assume that everyone knows what we know. We aren't able to give negative answers (lies) and don't perceive other individuals as cognitive beings like ourselves.
This can be demonstrated through a series of thought experiments.

One of which goes like this:
A child is introduced to two characters, who are standing in a room. They each have a basket, and one of them places a ball into his/her basket, and subsequently leaves the room. The other character then takes the ball and puts it in his/her own basket.
The child is then asked: Once the first person enters the room again, where will they look for the ball.

Before age four, children will usually insist that the character whom reentered the room, will look in the other characters basket. Cause the child assumes that the characters poses all the knowledge the child does.

More info.. (you can skip this part if you want)

I recall watching another experiment. I believe it was on an episode of through the wormhole.
In this experiment they put two pairs of sunglasses on an ape. One pair was normal, the other pair was painted black, so that you couldn't see through them if you were wearing them.

Afterwards the sunglasses were put on a person, or two people. It's a little hazy. The ape was trained to ask for food, and was sent to do so. They wanted to see if the ape was able to understand that one of the people couldn't see anything through the glasses and hence couldn't see when the ape was begging for good. But the ape begged anyway - and this suggested that the didn't understand that we see through our eyes, like they do.

Hypothesis
Even though primates, and presumably also other animals, aren't able to lie when asked a question, they are still capable of deceit to some extent, and that got me thinking.

Predators stalk their prey. This might just be the result of the evolution of hunting techniques, and not a conscious choice as such- but it seems to me, that the predator is often very aware about whether it's prey has noticed it's presence or not. Which would indicate to me that many predators, at least the ones that stalk and hunt, have more cognitive abilities than we currently think.

The reason why primates don't ask us any questions, might just indicate that they still don't fully grasp the possibilities of language/sign language, but not necessarily that they can't perceive others cognitive abilities.

Conclusion
I personally feel that the experiments carried out on the primates are insufficient, and I think the conclusion reach on the subject have been to hasty.

So - yeah. I might very well be wrong. But I would love to hear your thoughts on this. I'm sure some of you must have some pets with some crazy personalities at home. So lets get some examples!


What do you think?


 
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edit on 16/5/2013 by ArMaP because: (no reason given)




posted on May, 16 2013 @ 04:35 AM
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Some dogs are able to sense owners before they return, and other animals have a sense of danger before it happens, like the creatures that fled before the tsunamis. So I think there is definately "something" there. Perhaps a connection to nature that we have somehow lost?

I was thinking about congnative abilities between plants and animals not to long ago, as there is a flower that mimics a wasp, looks like a wasp, smells like a wasp, so much so, that the wasp thinks the flower is a wasp!
All this is done in order to trick the wasp so it would seem the plant actualy had to think about what it was doing.

How so if a plant cannot see color or smell sents?




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posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:04 AM
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reply to post by Wifibrains
 


Interesting - but in the case of the plant I think it is mostly a matter of evolution. It has simply been so benificial for the plant to have those trades, that the ones that didn't simply didn't reproduce as much as the ones that did. But it does sound like one of the more extraordinary and magical examples of nature.

But the plant might have the ability to sense the wasp, and therefore excrete what ever sent it gives, at the right time. There is usually always more to it then meets the eye. But this I would consider more as a reflex than a cognitive action.

But now we start moving into a debate of free will. Cause who is to say that our cognitive abilities aren't just a system of very complex reflexes? But I am getting of track with this..

But nice find, thanks for sharing anyway.



posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:09 AM
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They hardly need to TEST on animals. Just look into the eyes of any animal and you will see their intelligence.

Animals are vastly underestimated.

And often they are abused. This is the fact...



posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:12 AM
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We are the species similar to dinosaurs likely to die out at some point, or destroy each other and not be brought back again.

edit on 16-5-2013 by FreedomEntered because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:20 AM
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reply to post by Mads1987
 





Interesting - but in the case of the plant I think it is mostly a matter of evolution. It has simply been so benificial for the plant to have those trades, that the ones that didn't simply didn't reproduce as much as the ones that did


That's what I thought when I first thought about this, as that's what I was taught to think. Then I went deeper into this scinario of what was actauly happening, and asked the how's and why's and the evolution theory did not cut it for me. I think it's only half of the story.
edit on 16-5-2013 by Wifibrains because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:20 AM
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reply to post by FreedomEntered
 


I think your approaching this, in a very black and white way. I wouldn't say humans are above or below plants at all. We are two totally different entities. Plants seem to have much more sustainable approach to life, and in that sense I would say that they are properly superior to us, because they will most likely out live us. As you suggested.

But when talking about cognitive abilities, I find it hard to believe that they not only would posses such abilities, but actually surpasses humans.

I think it is important to recognize the vast differences there are between the different kingdoms. Animal, fungi, plant and micro organisms. They are all unique in their way, and we still have much to learn about them all. But I find it hard to say, that one is better than the other cause they are so different, and yet so dependent on each other.

Lifeforms aren't higher or lower than others. They are just different.
edit on 06/06/12 by Mads1987 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:25 AM
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Originally posted by Wifibrains
reply to post by Mads1987
 





Interesting - but in the case of the plant I think it is mostly a matter of evolution. It has simply been so benificial for the plant to have those trades, that the ones that didn't simply didn't reproduce as much as the ones that did


That's what I thought when I first thought about this, as that's what I was taught to think. Then I went deeper into this scinario of what was actauly happening, and asked the how's and why's and the evolution theory did not cut it for me. I think it's only half of the story.
edit on 16-5-2013 by Wifibrains because: (no reason given)


Any thoughts on what the other half might be?

There are always cases where evolution needs more explaining. But I generally find it very sufficient.



posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:26 AM
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reply to post by Mads1987
 





Plants seem to have much more sustainable approach to life


That's an understatement. Compared to humans.



posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:29 AM
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reply to post by Wifibrains
 


Yes, true. We aren't sustainable at all, or at least not for much longer. Whereas plants aren't really any thread to themselves at all.

But nevertheless, we do posses a lot of trades that are either better than plants or that plants simply do not have at all, and vice versa.
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posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:31 AM
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Humans are a form of leech only larger .

Dinosaurs were violent and aggressive as humans are and didnt last .

Well , if animals dont need so much life in their body to sustain their life to me this implies they were made more perfectly. At least... and therefore cognitively more intune with what should be to keep this planet going.

Also the same could be said of trees who also out live us. And who is to say honestly that a tree isnt a " thinking" being. We have no proof yet. And because our science cannot prove they are not thinking beings. Therefore it shouldnt be ruled out that they are not cognitively superior to us.
edit on 16-5-2013 by FreedomEntered because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:31 AM
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Originally posted by Wifibrains
reply to post by Mads1987
 





Interesting - but in the case of the plant I think it is mostly a matter of evolution. It has simply been so benificial for the plant to have those trades, that the ones that didn't simply didn't reproduce as much as the ones that did


That's what I thought when I first thought about this, as that's what I was taught to think. Then I went deeper into this scinario of what was actauly happening, and asked the how's and why's and the evolution theory did not cut it for me. I think it's only half of the story.
edit on 16-5-2013 by Wifibrains because: (no reason given)


"Any thoughts on what the other half might be?

There are always cases where evolution needs more explaining. But I generally find it very sufficient. "

It would have to be that which is left open to interpretation, the spiritual aspect. Not the kind you get at church. The kind that says all things are connected.


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posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:38 AM
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reply to post by Wifibrains
 


I dont think our cognitive abilities matter much in the scheme of things. Meaning its more about our " spiritual" interconnected as you have said. In the cycle of all life forms.

I think animals have more valueable traits than humans. Like the ability to just live their lifes independantly. We tend to be a " group" animal and thats our downfall. We need to emulate their way of living to live a smarter existance.



posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:39 AM
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reply to post by FreedomEntered
 


There is always a chance of everything. But there have been extensive research on the subject, and so far it seems that plants have no cognitive abilities.
Some things have indicated that they can express some kind of stress, if they are damaged. But nothing that would suggest even the intelligence of a bug.

I don't disagree with you that humans could be compared to leeches. I always enjoyed the virus metaphor in the first matrix movie.

But there is no reason to think that animals have some kind of secret understanding of sustainable living. Frankly we could be considered to have been just as sustainable for many millions of years, as we evolved from primitive primates to our current state. Only within the last few hundreds of years have we done any significant damage.
Sure we would tent to exhaust our hunting grounds from time to time, but the same could be said about any predator.

I think it's a matter of power, and the effect of power. If a monkey had the same abilities to manipulate their surroundings, I am sure they would cause just as much if not more damage.



posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:42 AM
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Is it our perceptions that limit our understanding?

I had a dog that always was at the front door 5 minutes before I arrived home. Did not matter what time it was, if I was late or on time. He always knew when I was five minutes from home.

Flocks of birds, thousands of them wheeling in patterns across the sky. They do not collide. We are lucky if we get five aircraft doing this safely for air shows yet thousands of birds can do this in unison as if under the sway of a mighty symphony conductor.

Perhaps if we understood these things we may find that animals communicate in some other way.

Do animals that live in flocks and herds have a link to a telepathic mind.

Scientists laugh at such questions and yet cannot begin to explain it.

The human ego gets in the way! We need to perceive ourselves as the top of the food chain. History shows that even nations have thought this way. We are better than them!

Well, no you're not!

Now since science has sold its soul to the god of money such things will never be investigated. There is no money in it.

P



posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:44 AM
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reply to post by Wifibrains
 


But as a self proclaimed skeptic, I'll have to wait till all the data is in, and thus far, there isn't really anything that would suggest any connections besides the obvious physical ones that are already know.

I mean, we are ofcause all connected in the sense that we live and interact with the same ecosystem. But the spiritual interpretation of our world has always seemed to flimsy for my taste.

But it would be so cool if you were right.



posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:48 AM
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reply to post by pheonix358
 


The thing with the birds flying in flocks is actually easily explained with mathematics. It's a matter of birds always keeping the same relative distances to specific birds close to them, and since they all follows the same set of rules they manage not to collide. Same goes for fish.
Also they have a sense that allows them to sense the magnetism from the poles. Which helps them navigate the long distances.

To be honest, I think their is a fair chance that a dog would be able to smell it's owner at a pretty good distance. That might explain your dogs behavior. But they might have some intuitive sense that we aren't aware of. Who knows.

Maybe dogs have X-ray vision.. that would be awesome.



posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:52 AM
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reply to post by Mads1987
 


Okay, you are saying plants do not have a functioning brain. But they do have an " aura" as every species does. And these auras change, are interchanging depending on the environment and their specific mood.

So this shows they are " conscious" beings .
edit on 16-5-2013 by FreedomEntered because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:54 AM
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reply to post by Mads1987
 


You cant live your life based on science you need to witness animals to see how smart they are. Truthfully... of course not all are smart. But there cognitive abilities... are. When they can telepathically read animals minds and translate their " thought process" you will find too that many are smarter than some humans.



posted on May, 16 2013 @ 05:55 AM
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reply to post by FreedomEntered
 


Would you mind defining an aura for me?
Are we talking a measurable electrical energy output of some sorts, something you can see, or something third?

Please forgive my skepticism. I am curious, but hard to convince.





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