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Animal Thinking

Contemporary Issues in Comparative Cognition

Edited by Randolf Menzel and Julia Fischer

Publication Year: 2011

Experts from psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, ecology, and evolutionary biology assess the field of animal cognition.

Published by: The MIT Press

Series: Strüngmann Forum Reports

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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The Ernst Strüngmann Forum

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pp. vii-viii

Founded on the tenets of scientific independence and the inquisitive nature of the human mind, the Ernst Strüngmann Forum is dedicated to the continual expansion of knowledge. Through its innovative communication process, the Ernst Strüngmann Forum provides a creative environment within which...

List of Contributors

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pp. ix-xii

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1 Animal Thinking: An Introduction

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pp. 1-6

The topic of this Strüngmann Forum—animal thinking—was not formulated as a question—“Do animals think?—but rather as a statement. One might question whether we have already gone too far by making such a statement, but this...


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2 Navigation and Communication in Honeybees

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pp. 9-22

Animals know where they are and where they want to go next. The question, however, is: What do “know,” “want,” “where,” and “what next” mean in this context? Ants following an outbound pheromone track are motivated...

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3 Navigating in a Three-Dimensional World

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pp. 23-38

Navigation has been one of the most intensively studied aspects of animal cognition in the past century because it is a fundamental competence, and because it requires engagement of a number of processes that are also relevant...

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4 Making the Case for the Intelligence of Avian Navigation

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pp. 39-50

With some notable exceptions (e.g., Köhler 1925; Tolman 1948), animal behavior research for most of the twentieth century viewed the behavior of animals as being channeled by genetically determined, innate predispositions (classical...

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5 Animal Navigation: A Synthesis

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pp. 51-76

Navigation is one of the most fundamental problems that animals and humans confront. It is based on a complex interplay of a large number of different processes and components, and requires the integration of spatially relevant information across sensory modalities...

Decision Making and Planning

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6 Goal-Directed Behavior and Future Planning in Animals

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pp. 79-92

The problem of intentionality has haunted biology and psychology for centuries. The exquisite adaptation of both animal morphology and behavior appeared to demand the hand of an intentional agent, which in pre-Darwinian...

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7 Mechanisms for Decisions about the Future

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pp. 93-104

A hungry female chimpanzee spies a termite mound and quickly fashions a branch into a long, thin twig. She then digs to uncover a tunnel in the mound and inserts her twig. Soon, she extracts the twig, revealing a dozen wriggling...

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8 Status of Nonhuman Memory Monitoring and Possible Roles in Planning and Decision Making

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pp. 105-120

Monitoring of cognitive processes may improve decision making by conditionalizing behavioral choices on the availability of needed knowledge. The dichotomy between memory that is accessible to monitoring (explicit) and that...

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9 Planning, Memory, and Decision Making

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pp. 121-148

Animals make a variety of choices, and it is a fair start to assume that the psychological mechanisms underpinning their choices will be adaptive in the sense of maximizing their net gain of resources, reproductive opportunities...


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10 Where Is the Information in Animal Communication?

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pp. 151-162

Explaining the evolution of communication is a major challenge, and despite many years of research, a number of conceptual issues remain unresolved. This has led to both confusion and sometimes unproductive friction. Some of...

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11 Communication in Social Insects: Sophisticated Problem Solving by Groups of Tiny-Brained Animals

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pp. 163-174

Insect societies, like human societies, confront many organizational challenges. These include the collection and transport of resources (e.g., food or building material), the establishment and maintenance of transportation routes, the...

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12 Language and Episodic Sharing

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pp. 175-186

It has become commonplace in cognitive science to distinguish between declarative and nondeclarative memory (e.g., Squire 1992, 2004). Unlike nondeclarative memory, declarative memory is accessible to consciousness...

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13 Communication

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pp. 187-206

Accounts of animal communication have traditionally relied heavily on the concept of information. Bradbury and Vehrencamp (1998:2), for example, defined communication as the “provision of information from a sender to...


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14 How Intelligent Is Machiavellian Behavior?

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pp. 209-222

The evolution of sociality has been a key research focus in evolutionary biology for a long time. One likely reason why so many evolutionary biologists fi nd this question so interesting is that humans are highly social animals. In social species...

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15 Simple Reactions to Nearby Neighbors and Complex Social Behavior in Primates

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pp. 223-238

Compared to many other animal taxa, the social behavior of primates is generally regarded to be more complex in its patterns and underlying cognition. This complexity has often been overestimated, because the same patterns of social...

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16 Cooperation in Nonhuman Primates: Function and Cognition

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pp. 239-252

It has long been hypothesized that the demands of establishing and maintaining bonds in large social groups has placed strong selective pressures on animal cognition. Research over the last thirty years has demonstrated that many...

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17 How Folk Psychology Ruined Comparative Psychology: And How Scrub Jays Can Save It

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pp. 253-266

The cognitive revolution in psychology was founded on the premise that all cognitive processes result from rule-governed operations and that cognizers do not need to understand these rules to act “rationally” or “intelligently.” Despite its intent to replace...

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18 Social Knowledge

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pp. 267-290

Simply put, social cognition comprises cognitive processes that are applied to social behavior. That may sound trivially obvious; however, there are some tricky waters to be navigated in this thimble-sized definition. What is social and what is cognition? One important...


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pp. 291-292


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pp. 293-336

Subject Index

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pp. 337-342

E-ISBN-13: 9780262298988
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262016636

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Strüngmann Forum Reports