Special Issue "Advances in Animal Cognition"

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A special issue of Behavioral Sciences (ISSN 2076-328X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2016)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Jennifer Vonk

Department of Psychology, Oakland University, 2200 N Squirrel Rd, Rochester, MI 48309, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: concept formation, social reasoning, causal reasoning, prosociality, memory

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

 

This Special Issue solicits papers reflecting recent methodological or conceptual advances in the field of animal cognition, broadly defined. Topics can cover any area of cognitive processing involving any species. Examples of topics include the application of cognitive studies to animal welfare, the neurological underpinnings of cognitive capacities, and novel experimental tests of basic cognitive abilities. Comparisons of cognitive abilities across species, including humans, are especially welcome. Empirical research papers that demonstrate novelty in their approach, as well as review papers outlining novel theoretical approaches to a topic are welcome. Authors may also contribute perspectives papers that outline current issues and potential solutions within the field of animal cognition.

Jennifer Vonk
Guest Editors

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Behavioral Sciences is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 300 CHF (Swiss Francs). English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.

Keywords

  • methodological advances
  • conceptual advances
  • theory
  • animal Cognition
  • primates
  • carnivores
  • animal welfare

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Advances in Animal Cognition
Behav. Sci. 2016, 6(4), 27; doi:10.3390/bs6040027
Received: 22 November 2016 / Revised: 22 November 2016 / Accepted: 28 November 2016 / Published: 30 November 2016
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Abstract
This editorial endorses a diverse approach to the study of animal cognition and emphasizes the theoretical and applied gains that can be made by embracing this approach. This diversity emerges from cross-talk among scientists trained in a variety of backgrounds and theoretical approaches,
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This editorial endorses a diverse approach to the study of animal cognition and emphasizes the theoretical and applied gains that can be made by embracing this approach. This diversity emerges from cross-talk among scientists trained in a variety of backgrounds and theoretical approaches, who study a variety of topics with a range of species. By shifting from an anthropocentric focus on humans and our closest living relatives, and the historic reliance on the lab rat or pigeon, modern students of animal cognition have uncovered many fascinating facets of cognition in species ranging from insects to carnivores. Diversity in both topic and species of study will allow researchers to better understand the complex evolutionary forces giving rise to widely shared and unique cognitive processes. Furthermore, this increased understanding will translate into more effective strategies for managing wild and captive populations of nonhuman species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Animal Cognition)

Research

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Dynamic Duos? Jamaican Fruit Bats (Artibeus jamaicensis) Do Not Show Prosocial Behavior in a Release Paradigm
Behav. Sci. 2016, 6(4), 25; doi:10.3390/bs6040025
Received: 7 October 2016 / Revised: 13 November 2016 / Accepted: 16 November 2016 / Published: 20 November 2016
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Abstract
Once thought to be uniquely human, prosocial behavior has been observed in a number of species, including vampire bats that engage in costly food-sharing. Another social chiropteran, Jamaican fruit bats (Artibeus jamaicensis), have been observed to engage in cooperative mate guarding,
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Once thought to be uniquely human, prosocial behavior has been observed in a number of species, including vampire bats that engage in costly food-sharing. Another social chiropteran, Jamaican fruit bats (Artibeus jamaicensis), have been observed to engage in cooperative mate guarding, and thus might be expected to display prosocial behavior as well. However, frugivory and hematophagy diets may impose different selection pressures on prosocial preferences, given that prosocial preferences may depend upon cognitive abilities selected by different ecological constraints. Thus, we assessed whether Jamaican fruit bats would assist a conspecific in an escape paradigm in which a donor could opt to release a recipient from an enclosure. The test apparatus contained two compartments—one of which was equipped with a sensor that, once triggered, released the trap door of the adjacent compartment. Sixty-six exhaustive pairs of 12 bats were tested, with each bat in each role, twice when the recipient was present and twice when absent. Bats decreased their behavior of releasing the trapdoor in both conditions over time, decreasing the behavior slightly more rapidly in the recipient absent condition. Bats did not release the door more often when recipients were present, regardless of the recipient; thus, there was no clear evidence of prosocial behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Animal Cognition)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Learned Use of Picture Cues by Bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) in a Delayed Matching Task
Behav. Sci. 2016, 6(4), 22; doi:10.3390/bs6040022
Received: 11 July 2016 / Revised: 5 October 2016 / Accepted: 6 October 2016 / Published: 14 October 2016
PDF Full-text (1166 KB)
Abstract
Picture-object correspondence provides an alternate method of investigating delayed matching by providing a cue (picture) which may be spontaneously perceived as similar but different from a corresponding target. Memory for, and corresponding choice of, a target corresponding to a cue could be facilitated
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Picture-object correspondence provides an alternate method of investigating delayed matching by providing a cue (picture) which may be spontaneously perceived as similar but different from a corresponding target. Memory for, and corresponding choice of, a target corresponding to a cue could be facilitated by the use of a picture. Bumblebees have been found to both easily differentiate images from corresponding objects but also spontaneously perceive a similarity between the two. Herein, an approach was designed to test the possible use of picture cues to signal reward in a delayed matching task. Target choice preference corresponding to picture cues was tested among three bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) colonies using photograph cues (presented prior to target stimuli) corresponding to one of four target stimuli. Photograph cues were the only predictor of corresponding target reward, presented in stable locations. Rewarded and unrewarded tests show a choice preference significantly higher than chance for targets matching the cue. Results suggest that bumblebees can learn to use picture cues in a delayed matching task. Furthermore, experience, conditions of reward inconsistency and location, are discussed as possible contributing factors to learning in a delayed matching task. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Animal Cognition)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle The Effect of Computerized Testing on Sun Bear Behavior and Enrichment Preferences
Behav. Sci. 2016, 6(4), 19; doi:10.3390/bs6040019
Received: 21 July 2016 / Revised: 13 September 2016 / Accepted: 18 September 2016 / Published: 22 September 2016
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Abstract
The field of comparative cognition investigates species’ differences and similarities in cognitive abilities, and sheds light on the evolutionary origins of such capacities. Cognitive testing has been carried out in a variety of species; however, there are some taxa that are underrepresented in
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The field of comparative cognition investigates species’ differences and similarities in cognitive abilities, and sheds light on the evolutionary origins of such capacities. Cognitive testing has been carried out in a variety of species; however, there are some taxa that are underrepresented in this field. The current work follows on a recent increase in cognitive research in the order Carnivora with a specific focus on sun bears. Sun bears are the smallest existing bear species and live in tropical regions of Southeast Asia. They have an omnivorous diet and use their tongues to forage for insects and sap. Little is known about sun bear cognition, although much like other bear species, anecdotes suggest a high level of intelligence. The current work explored training sun bears to use a touchscreen computer. This effort allows for insight into cognitive abilities as well as providing a complex source of enrichment for the bears. The bears use their tongues to respond to a touchscreen computer, and the effects on stereotypic behaviors on exhibit and preference for this over other forms of enrichment were examined. Overall, bears performed well on the task and showed a preference for the computer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Animal Cognition)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Testing the Glucose Hypothesis among Capuchin Monkeys: Does Glucose Boost Self-Control?
Behav. Sci. 2016, 6(3), 16; doi:10.3390/bs6030016
Received: 29 April 2016 / Revised: 21 July 2016 / Accepted: 27 July 2016 / Published: 3 August 2016
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Abstract
The ego-depletion hypothesis states that self-control diminishes over time and with exertion. Accordingly, the glucose hypothesis attributes this depletion of self-control resources to decreases in blood glucose levels. Research has led to mixed findings among humans and nonhuman animals, with limited evidence for
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The ego-depletion hypothesis states that self-control diminishes over time and with exertion. Accordingly, the glucose hypothesis attributes this depletion of self-control resources to decreases in blood glucose levels. Research has led to mixed findings among humans and nonhuman animals, with limited evidence for such a link between glucose and self-control among closely-related nonhuman primate species, but some evidence from more distantly related species (e.g., honeybees and dogs). We tested this hypothesis in capuchin monkeys by manipulating the sugar content of a calorie-matched breakfast meal following a nocturnal fast, and then presenting each monkey with the accumulation self-control task. Monkeys were presented with food items one-by-one until the subject retrieved and ate the accumulating items, which required continual inhibition of food retrieval in the face of an increasingly desirable reward. Results indicated no relationship between self-control performance on the accumulation task and glucose ingestion levels following a fast. These results do not provide support for the glucose hypothesis of self-control among capuchin monkeys within the presented paradigm. Further research assessing self-control and its physiological correlates among closely- and distantly-related species is warranted to shed light on the mechanisms underlying self-control behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Animal Cognition)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Reasoning about “Capability”: Wild Robins Respond to Limb Visibility in Humans
Behav. Sci. 2016, 6(3), 15; doi:10.3390/bs6030015
Received: 30 April 2016 / Revised: 5 July 2016 / Accepted: 6 July 2016 / Published: 21 July 2016
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Abstract
Little comparative work has focused on what nonhumans understand about what physical acts others are capable of performing, and none has yet done so in the wild, or within a competitive framework. This study shows that North Island robins visually attend to human
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Little comparative work has focused on what nonhumans understand about what physical acts others are capable of performing, and none has yet done so in the wild, or within a competitive framework. This study shows that North Island robins visually attend to human limbs in the context of determining who to steal food from. We presented 24 wild North Island Robins (Petroica longipes) with two experimenters. Robins could choose to steal a mealworm from one of two experimenters: one whose limbs were exposed and one who underwent a range of visual obstructions in two experiments. In most conditions, robins preferred to steal food located near the experimenter whose limbs were obscured by a cloth or board rather than food located near the experimenter whose limbs were not obscured. The robins’ responses indicate that human limb visibility is associated with reduced access to food. Current findings lay the groundwork for a closer look at the potential general use of causal reasoning in an inter-specific context of using limbs to perform physical acts, specifically within the context of pilfering. This study presents one of the first tests of the role of visual attendance of potential limb availability in a competitive context, and could provide an alternative hypothesis for how other species have passed tests designed to examine what individuals understand about the physical acts others are capable of performing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Animal Cognition)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Can Rhesus Monkeys Learn Executive Attention?
Behav. Sci. 2016, 6(2), 11; doi:10.3390/bs6020011
Received: 31 March 2016 / Revised: 31 May 2016 / Accepted: 3 June 2016 / Published: 13 June 2016
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Abstract
A growing body of data indicates that, compared to humans, rhesus monkeys perform poorly on tasks that assess executive attention, or voluntary control over selection for processing, particularly under circumstances in which attention is attracted elsewhere by competing stimulus control. In the human-cognition
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A growing body of data indicates that, compared to humans, rhesus monkeys perform poorly on tasks that assess executive attention, or voluntary control over selection for processing, particularly under circumstances in which attention is attracted elsewhere by competing stimulus control. In the human-cognition literature, there are hotly active debates about whether various competencies such as executive attention, working memory capacity, and fluid intelligence can be improved through training. In the current study, rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) completed an attention-training intervention including several inhibitory-control tasks (a Simon task, numerical Stroop task, global/local interference task, and a continuous performance task) to determine whether generalized improvements would be observed on a version of the Attention Network Test (ANT) of controlled attention, which was administered before and after the training intervention. Although the animals demonstrated inhibition of prepotent responses and improved in executive attention with practice, this improvement did not generalize to the ANT at levels consistently better than were observed for control animals. Although these findings fail to encourage the possibility that species differences in cognitive competencies can be ameliorated through training, they do advance our understanding of the competition between stimulus-control and cognitive-control in performance by nonhuman and human primates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Animal Cognition)
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Open AccessArticle Emotion Evaluation and Response Slowing in a Non-Human Primate: New Directions for Cognitive Bias Measures of Animal Emotion?
Behav. Sci. 2016, 6(1), 2; doi:10.3390/bs6010002
Received: 4 December 2015 / Revised: 22 December 2015 / Accepted: 27 December 2015 / Published: 11 January 2016
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Abstract
The cognitive bias model of animal welfare assessment is informed by studies with humans demonstrating that the interaction between emotion and cognition can be detected using laboratory tasks. A limitation of cognitive bias tasks is the amount of training required by animals prior
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The cognitive bias model of animal welfare assessment is informed by studies with humans demonstrating that the interaction between emotion and cognition can be detected using laboratory tasks. A limitation of cognitive bias tasks is the amount of training required by animals prior to testing. A potential solution is to use biologically relevant stimuli that trigger innate emotional responses. Here; we develop a new method to assess emotion in rhesus macaques; informed by paradigms used with humans: emotional Stroop; visual cueing and; in particular; response slowing. In humans; performance on a simple cognitive task can become impaired when emotional distractor content is displayed. Importantly; responses become slower in anxious individuals in the presence of mild threat; a pattern not seen in non-anxious individuals; who are able to effectively process and disengage from the distractor. Here; we present a proof-of-concept study; demonstrating that rhesus macaques show slowing of responses in a simple touch-screen task when emotional content is introduced; but only when they had recently experienced a presumably stressful veterinary inspection. Our results indicate the presence of a subtle “cognitive freeze” response; the measurement of which may provide a means of identifying negative shifts in emotion in animals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Animal Cognition)
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Open AccessCommunication Trained Quantity Abilities in Horses (Equus caballus): A Preliminary Investigation
Behav. Sci. 2014, 4(3), 213-225; doi:10.3390/bs4030213
Received: 11 June 2014 / Revised: 11 July 2014 / Accepted: 15 July 2014 / Published: 25 July 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (199 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Once believed to be a human prerogative, the capacity to discriminate between quantities now has also been reported in several vertebrates. To date, only two studies investigated numerical abilities in horses (Equus caballus) but reported contrasting data. To assess whether horses
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Once believed to be a human prerogative, the capacity to discriminate between quantities now has also been reported in several vertebrates. To date, only two studies investigated numerical abilities in horses (Equus caballus) but reported contrasting data. To assess whether horses can be trained to discriminate between quantities, I have set up a new experimental protocol using operant conditioning. One adult female was trained to discriminate between 1 and 4 (Test 1) in three different conditions: non-controlled continuous variables (numerical and continuous quantities that co-vary with number are simultaneously available), 50% controlled continuous variables (intermediate condition), and 100% controlled continuous variables (only numerical information available). The subject learned the discrimination in all conditions, showing the capacity to process numerical information. When presented with a higher numerical ratio (2 vs. 4, Test 2), the subject still discriminated between the quantities but its performance was statistically significant only in the non-controlled condition, suggesting that the subject used multiple cues in presence of a more difficult discrimination. On the whole, the results here reported encourage the use of this experimental protocol as a valid tool to investigate the capacity to process numerical and continuous quantities in horses in future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Animal Cognition)
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Review

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Open AccessReview What’s Special about Human Imitation? A Comparison with Enculturated Apes
Behav. Sci. 2016, 6(3), 13; doi:10.3390/bs6030013
Received: 20 March 2016 / Revised: 25 June 2016 / Accepted: 28 June 2016 / Published: 7 July 2016
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Abstract
What, if anything, is special about human imitation? An evaluation of enculturated apes’ imitation skills, a “best case scenario” of non-human apes’ imitation performance, reveals important similarities and differences between this special population of apes and human children. Candidates for shared imitation mechanisms
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What, if anything, is special about human imitation? An evaluation of enculturated apes’ imitation skills, a “best case scenario” of non-human apes’ imitation performance, reveals important similarities and differences between this special population of apes and human children. Candidates for shared imitation mechanisms include the ability to imitate various familiar transitive responses and object–object actions that involve familiar tools. Candidates for uniquely derived imitation mechanisms include: imitating novel transitive actions and novel tool-using responses as well as imitating opaque or intransitive gestures, regardless of familiarity. While the evidence demonstrates that enculturated apes outperform non-enculturated apes and perform more like human children, all apes, regardless of rearing history, generally excel at imitating familiar, over-rehearsed responses and are poor, relative to human children, at imitating novel, opaque or intransitive responses. Given the similarities between the sensory and motor systems of preschool age human children and non-human apes, it is unlikely that differences in sensory input and/or motor-output alone explain the observed discontinuities in imitation performance. The special rearing history of enculturated apes—including imitation-specific training—further diminishes arguments suggesting that differences are experience-dependent. Here, it is argued that such differences are best explained by distinct, specialized mechanisms that have evolved for copying rules and responses in particular content domains. Uniquely derived social and imitation learning mechanisms may represent adaptations for learning novel communicative gestures and complex tool-use. Given our species’ dependence on both language and tools, mechanisms that accelerated learning in these domains are likely to have faced intense selective pressures, starting with the earliest of human ancestors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Animal Cognition)
Open AccessReview Categorization: The View from Animal Cognition
Behav. Sci. 2016, 6(2), 12; doi:10.3390/bs6020012
Received: 6 April 2016 / Revised: 21 May 2016 / Accepted: 31 May 2016 / Published: 15 June 2016
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Abstract
Exemplar, prototype, and rule theory have organized much of the enormous literature on categorization. From this theoretical foundation have arisen the two primary debates in the literature—the prototype-exemplar debate and the single system-multiple systems debate. We review these theories and debates. Then, we
[...] Read more.
Exemplar, prototype, and rule theory have organized much of the enormous literature on categorization. From this theoretical foundation have arisen the two primary debates in the literature—the prototype-exemplar debate and the single system-multiple systems debate. We review these theories and debates. Then, we examine the contribution that animal-cognition studies have made to them. Animals have been crucial behavioral ambassadors to the literature on categorization. They reveal the roots of human categorization, the basic assumptions of vertebrates entering category tasks, the surprising weakness of exemplar memory as a category-learning strategy. They show that a unitary exemplar theory of categorization is insufficient to explain human and animal categorization. They show that a multiple-systems theoretical account—encompassing exemplars, prototypes, and rules—will be required for a complete explanation. They show the value of a fitness perspective in understanding categorization, and the value of giving categorization an evolutionary depth and phylogenetic breadth. They raise important questions about the internal similarity structure of natural kinds and categories. They demonstrate strong continuities with humans in categorization, but discontinuities, too. Categorization’s great debates are resolving themselves, and to these resolutions animals have made crucial contributions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Animal Cognition)

Other

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Open AccessCorrection Bramlett-Parker, J.; Washburn, D.A. Can Rhesus Monkey Learn Executive Attention? Behav. Sci. 2016, 6, 11
Behav. Sci. 2016, 6(4), 26; doi:10.3390/bs6040026 (registering DOI)
Received: 24 November 2016 / Revised: 24 November 2016 / Accepted: 28 November 2016 / Published: 29 November 2016
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(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Animal Cognition)

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