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A computational investigation of relational reasoning in nonhuman animals

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Item Summary

Title: A computational investigation of relational reasoning in nonhuman animals
Authors: Ciraolo, Margeaux Faye
Keywords: cognition
animal cognition
computational model
relational reasoning
Issue Date: May 2012
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2012]
Abstract: Since Darwin (1859) suggested that all animals share a common ancestry, researchers have attempted to assess how the divergence between human and nonhuman animal biology and cognition came about. Animals have a large repertoire of physical and behavioral adaptations that have afforded them the ability to overcome myriad obstacles to their existence. On the behavioral level, these adaptations are as diverse as the species that exhibit them. One merely has to select an animal species at random and do a cursory investigation in order to find many complex behaviors which make that animal a perfect fit for the environment that it inhabits. However, it is possible that the high degree to which an animal is adapted to its environment may limit that animal's ability to employ flexible behavior. For example, the digger wasp has a highly stereotypical set of behavioral steps for readying a nest. If any one of these steps is disrupted in the process of nest creation, the digger wasp will not alter its behavioral program, even if doing so would ensure the life of its offspring (Fabre, 1919). In short, the digger wasp lacks flexibility in its behavioral routine. Indeed, many animal species display rigidity in their behavior. Humans, on the other hand, appear to have much more control of their behavior as well as a flexibility that has allowed them to manipulate and change their environment. The mechanism that underlies this ability may be at the heart of what makes human and nonhuman animal cognition so qualitatively different.
Description: M.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections:M.A. - Psychology

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