Animal Cognition: Principles, Evolution and Development


Mary C. Olmstead (Editor)
Department of Psychology, Centre for Neuroscience Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston Ontario, Canada

Series: Animal Science, Issues and Research
BISAC: SCI013000

The study of animal cognition has undergone enormous growth in the last two decades. In the early part of the 20th century, the work was conducted primarily by psychologists who studied animal behavior in the laboratory as a model of human cognition. By the middle of the century, ethological studies of animal behavior in the natural environment revealed an amazing array of cognitive abilities in different species, worthy of study in their own right. In many cases, scientists in these two disciplines were investigating the same process (e.g., learning, navigation, communication) from very different perspectives. Psychologists tended to focus on developmental or mechanistic explanations, whereas ethologists and behavioral ecologists emphasized adaptive or functional ones. Eventually, it became clear that the two fields are complementary with a full description of any cognitive process, depending on both proximate and ultimate explanations.
This text builds on the tradition of combining data from laboratory and field studies of animal behavior as a means of understanding the evolution and function of cognition. In keeping with contemporary terminology, cognition refers to a wide range of processes from modification of simple reflexes to abstract concept learning to social interactions to the expression of emotions, such as guilt. These are examined throughout the text in animal groups ranging from insects to great apes. A general theme across chapters is that the evolution of behavioral patterns is adaptive, thereby reflected in underlying neural structures. Many of the authors go on to examine the adaptive significance of a behavior in relation to a species’ ecological history in order to develop theories of cognitive evolution. These issues are becoming increasingly important in a world with rapidly changing environments to which all animals, including humans, must adjust.
A primary goal of this volume is to introduce the exciting field of animal cognition to a new group of young scientists. The editor also hopes to encourage experienced researchers to expand their ideas of what constitutes animal cognition and how it can be studied in the future. From the editor’s own reading, one area of potential growth is the development of more formal models of cognition to guide quantitative predictions of behavior. Although no chapter focuses exclusively on humans, readers should have no difficulty extrapolating research findings and theories from other species to those of our own. Differences are clearly based on degree, not kind. (Imprint: Nova)


Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Proximate causes of Cognition
Erica N. Feuerbacher and Alexandra Protopopova (Carroll College, Department of Anthrozoology, Helena, MT, USA, and others)

Chapter 2. Comparative Approaches to the Study of Basic Processes of Cognition: A Tale of Three Species
Aaron P. Blaisdell (University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA)

Chapter 3. Cognition as a Target and Facilitator of Sexual Selection
Douglas G. Barron, Ahmet K. Uysal, S. Leilani Kellogg and Toru Shimizu (Arkansas Tech University, Russellville, AR, USA, and others)

Chapter 4. The Emergence of Spatial Cognition in Insects
Paul Graham and Antoine Wystrach (School of Life Sciences, Sussex University, Brighton, UK, and others)

Chapter 5. Floral Cognition: Comparative and Functional Perspectives
Danielle Sulikowski (School of Psychology, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Australia)

Chapter 6. Generalization Cannot Explain Abstract-Concept Learning
Thomas A. Daniel, Adam M. Goodman, Andie M. Thompkins, Martha R. Forloines, Lucia Lazarowski, and Jeffrey S. Katz (Dept. Psychology, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA)

Chapter 7. The Innovative Bird: Contextual Determinants and Underpinning Mechanisms of Innovative Foraging
Griffin, A.S. and Guez, D. (School of Psychology, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia)

Chapter 8. The Neurobiology of Social Learning
Richard Matta, Kelsy S. J. Ervin and Elena Choleris (Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Program, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada)

Chapter 9. Play and Cognition: The Final Frontier
Sergio M. Pellis and Vivien C. Pellis (Department of Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada)


Additional Information

Audience: Primarily academic.

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