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What are the theoretical reasons for studying the cognitive abilities of non-human animals?

By comparing and contrasting different areas of the brain in animals, we can make inferences about the relationship between CNS structure and function of cognition in humans.

Also, provides insight into animal cognition, the way environment shapes cognition and how humans are unique.


What role does instrumental learning play in tool use in non-human animals?



How does the marking test test self-recognition in a mirror?

A mark is placed on the back on an animal. Self-recognition is displayed if the animal approaches the mirror and displays self-awareness. For chimps, when touch own head, not mirror. For dolphins, inspection of self in mirror can be confused with social behaviour.


What was Thorndike's theory of problem solving? What is wrong with Thorndike's puzzle box and his theory?

There is no such thing as insight. Instead problem solving ability comes from incremental learning or repeated trial-and-error. Observed in cats placed in the Thorndike puzzle box - improved from trial-and-error. The puzzle box only gives cat one response option and cat was motivated by a reward.


What is Morgan's Canon of Interpretation?

Behaviour should not be explained by complex, high-level mental processes if it can be explained with a simpler one.


How can we compare the speed of learning between species of animals?

Measure and compare the rates of incremental leaning (how many trials taken to learn task)


What do the results from learning sets indicate?

Learning sets show us how fast an animal can apply learning from one situation to another. In new situations, animal must still make a discrimination, which shows that animals learn how to learn/have the ability to learn.


How was the design in Köhler's experiments different to Thorndike's in studying mental abilities?

Köhler placed great apes in an open arena with a few objects, which means there could be different solutions to a problem. However, there was much inferencing involved.


Can animals display flashes of insight in problem solving?

No, it may appear that an animal has a flash of insight (as in Epstein's experiment, where a pigeon trained not to fly and to peck a banana for food, moves a box in order to read banana), when actually from experience and practice in environment. Therefore, problem solving is not situational or a matter of insight.


What factors contribute to an animal's problem solving ability?

Animals gain EXPERIENCE and PRACTICE, from interactions with the environment through trial-and-error. Animals become more aware of physics and functionality in the environment. They can then GENERALISE the structure of past behaviour to novel but similar conditions.

- e.g. Sultan the chimp (use short stick to get long stick to get food)


Under what conditions will animals learn to use tools?

-If the animal is given the opportunity to play, experience and practice
-If the animal has watched others using tools


The use of tools is entirely novel for each situation and, therefore, problem solving is not a repetition of past, reinforced behaviour. True/false?

True, but generalisation of the structure of past problems is used to solve novel but similar problems.


What is intentional stance?

Intentional stance to refers the tendency to explain other people's behaviours by the fulfilment of intentions. This may explain altruistic behaviours.


What is the false belief test, and how does it test a Theory of Mind?

A chimp is asked which box something is in and which box they think 'Jeremy' thinks the box is in. If Jeremy doesn't see that the location of the object has been switched from Box A to Box B, he has the false belief that the object is in Box A.


What is the Theory of Mind?

The ability to attribute intentions, knowledge, etc. to others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions that are different from one's own.


How did chimps, 4-year-old children, 5-year-old children and autistic children perform on the false belief test?

-Chimps could tell which box banana is in but failed when it came to which box Jeremy thinks the box is in.
-4-year-olds performed poorly in the false belief test, but 5-year-olds performed well.
-Autistic children performed poorly, suggesting they may not have Theory of Mind.


What are practical reasons for studying cognitive abilities of animals?

- Greater control over IVs, DVs, confounding variables.
- Development of procedures to test humans that do not rely on language