Animal Intelligence

Animal Learning and Intelligence News -- ScienceDaily Read about the latest research on animal learning and intelligence, including studies on elephants, apes, birds and dogs.

  • Dogs are more expressive when someone is looking
    on October 19, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Dogs produce more facial expressions when humans are looking at them, according to new research. […]

  • Whales and dolphins have rich 'human-like' cultures and societies
    on October 16, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    Whales and dolphins (cetaceans) live in tightly-knit social groups, have complex relationships, talk to each other and even have regional dialects -- much like human societies. A major new study has linked the complexity of Cetacean culture and behavior to the size of their brains. […]

  • Kune Kune piglets possess social learning skills and have an astonishingly good memory
    on October 11, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Pigs are socially competent and capable of learning. But the combination of these skills, learning by observing others, has been insufficiently studied so far. Exact copying and understanding of demonstrated actions -- highly developed learning abilities -- could not be proven. A new study with Kune Kune pigs, has now shown for the first time that pigs do learn from each other. The intelligent animals also possess remarkable long-term memory after internalizing a technique. […]

  • Bumblebees shed light on why some individuals are smarter than others
    on October 4, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    By examining the brains of bees trained to different tasks, the researchers found that the number of connections between nerve cells may hold the answer to questions about individual cognitive differences. Bees with a greater density of nerve connections (known as synaptic complexes) in a specific part of their brains had better memories and learned faster than bees with fewer connections in these areas. […]

  • Raccoons solve an ancient puzzle, but do they really understand it?
    on September 29, 2017 at 4:51 pm

    Scientists have been using an ancient Greek fable written by Aesop as inspiration to test whether birds and small children understand cause and effect relationships. A group of scientists have now extended this body of work to study raccoon intelligence. Their research uses the Aesop's Fable paradigm to assess if mammalian carnivores understand the principles of water displacement. […]

  • Clever cockatoos bend hooks into straight wire to fish for food
    on September 6, 2017 at 12:29 am

    Bending of a hook into wire to fish for the handle of a basket by crow Betty 15 years ago stunned the scientific world. Cognitive biologists studied tool making in an Indonesian cockatoo. Other than crows, cockatoos are not using tools in the wild. The birds manufactured hook tools out of straight wire without ever having seen or used a hook tool before. […]

  • The sniff test of self-recognition confirmed: Dogs have self-awareness
    on September 5, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    A new research study used a sniff-test to evaluate the ability of dogs to recognize themselves. The experiment confirms the hypothesis of dogs' self-cognition proposed last year. […]

  • Apes' abilities misunderstood by decades of poor science
    on August 31, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    Hundreds of scientific studies over two decades have told us that apes are clever -- just not as clever as us. New analysis argues that what we think we know about apes' social intelligence is based on wishful thinking and flawed science. […]

  • Both chimpanzees and humans spontaneously imitate each other's actions
    on August 21, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    Decades of research has shown that apes, in spite of their proverbial aping abilities, are rather poor imitators, especially when compared to human children. Current theories hold that apes are worse imitators because they lack this social and communicative side of imitation. A new study has instead targeted the interactive side of imitation directly, and finds that the divide between humans and chimpanzees is less clear cut. […]

  • Successful guide dogs have 'tough love' moms, study finds
    on August 7, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    Much has been written on the pitfalls of being a helicopter parent, one who insulates children from adversity rather than encouraging their independence. A new study seems to back up this finding -- in dogs. […]

  • Humans imitate in unique ways: Comparing children and bonobos
    on July 25, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    A new study compared children's capacity to imitate behavior with the same capacity of humans' closest living great ape relatives, the bonobos. The study found that bonobos do not copy actions as children do, which highlights the unique nature of human imitation. […]

  • A common underlying genetic basis for social behavior in dogs and humans
    on July 19, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    Scientists have identified genetic changes that are linked to dogs' human-directed social behaviors and suggest there is a common underlying genetic basis for hyper-social behavior in both dogs and humans. […]

  • Squirrels have long memory for problem solving
    on July 13, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Squirrels can remember problem-solving techniques for long periods and can apply them to new situations, researchers have discovered. […]

  • Cocoa and chocolate are not just treats -- they are good for your cognition
    on June 29, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Researchers have examined the available literature for the effects of acute and chronic administration of cocoa flavanols on different cognitive domains. It turns out that cognitive performance was improved by a daily intake of cocoa flavanols. […]

  • Real-time vapor analysis could improve training of explosive-detecting dogs
    on June 28, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    With a sense of smell much greater than humans, dogs are considered the gold standard for explosive detection in many situations. But that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. In a new study, scientists report on a new, more rigorous approach to training dogs and their handlers based on real-time analysis of what canines actually smell when they are exposed to explosive materials. […]

  • Piglets prefer new toys, behavior study shows
    on June 21, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    We can't help but be tempted by new things. We see it in a child's eyes when she opens a new toy, and feel it every time a new version of the iPhone is released. It turns out our preference for shiny, new things is pretty universal throughout the animal kingdom. Yes, even piglets prefer new toys. […]

  • Cockatoos keep their tools safe
    on May 16, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Only a few animal species such as New Caledonian crows or some primates have so far been found to habitually use tools. Even fewer can manufacture their own tools. Nevertheless, the Goffin's cockatoo, an Indonesian parrot, exhibit both abilities while seemingly lacking a genetic adaptation for tool use. Researchers have now shown yet another tool-related ability in these clever parrots. […]

  • How dogs interact with others plays a role in decision-making
    on April 24, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Dynamics between familiar dogs may influence their likelihood of learning from each other, new research shows. How dogs interact with others plays a big role in how they respond under conditions that require quick thinking. […]

  • Elephants' 'body awareness' adds to increasing evidence of their intelligence
    on April 12, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    Asian elephants are able to recognize their bodies as obstacles to success in problem-solving, further strengthening evidence of their intelligence and self-awareness, according to a new study. […]

  • You spy with your little eye, dogs can adopt the perspective of humans
    on April 7, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Humans are able to interpret the behavior of others by attributing mental states to them (and to themselves). By adopting the perspectives of other persons, they can assume their emotions, needs and intentions and react accordingly. In the animal kingdom, the ability to attribute mental states (Theory of Mind) is a highly contentious issue. Cognitive biologists could demonstrate with a new test procedure that dogs are not only able to identify whether a human has an eye on a food source and, therefore, knows where the food has been hidden. They can also apply this knowledge in order to correctly interpret cues by humans and find food they cannot see themselves. […]

  • Do smart songbirds always get the girl?
    on April 3, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    Compelling evidence shows females prefer mates with better cognitive abilities in a number of animals and even humans. For male songbirds, their ability to sing complex songs has been suggested to signal cognitive ability and is vital for attracting females as well as repelling rival males. What's not clear is how female songbirds can judge the cognitive abilities of potential mates, which is a necessary first step if smarter mates are preferred over their not-as-smart counterparts. […]

  • Brain scans of service-dog trainees help sort weaker recruits from the pack
    on March 7, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Brain scans of canine candidates to assist people with disabilities can help predict which dogs will fail a rigorous service training program, a study by finds. The study found that fMRI boosted the ability to identify dogs that would ultimately fail service-dog training to 67 percent, up from about 47 percent without the use of fMRI. […]

  • Horse-riding can improve children's cognitive ability
    on March 2, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    Recent research shows that the effects of vibrations produced by horses during horse-riding lead to the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which improves learning in children. […]

  • Dogs, toddlers show similarities in social intelligence
    on February 27, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    Researchers have found that dogs and 2-year-old children show similar patterns in social intelligence, much more so than human children and one of their closest relatives: chimpanzees. The research could help scientists better understand how humans evolved socially. […]

  • Delaying marijuana smoking to age 17 cuts risks to teens' brains, new study suggests
    on January 26, 2017 at 2:46 am

    Adolescents who smoke marijuana as early as 14 do worse by 20 points on some cognitive tests and drop out of school at a higher rate than non-smokers. But if they hold off until age 17, they're less at risk. […]

  • Macaques, like humans, know how well they can recall memories
    on January 12, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    Researchers have pinpointed a brain region monkeys use to evaluate their ability to recall memories. To date, this metamemory process, which requires a higher level of self-reflection about our own cognition, was thought by some to be unique to humans, though this research suggests otherwise. […]

  • Think chicken: Think intelligent, caring and complex
    on January 3, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Chickens are not as clueless or 'bird-brained' as people believe them to be. They have distinct personalities and can outmaneuver one another. They know their place in the pecking order, and can reason by deduction, which is an ability that humans develop by the age of seven. Chicken intelligence is therefore unnecessarily underestimated and overshadowed by other avian groups. […]

  • When horses are in trouble they ask humans for help
    on December 15, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    When horses face unsolvable problems, they use visual and tactile signals to get human attention and ask for help, a new study has demonstrated. The study also suggests that horses alter their communicative behavior based on humans' knowledge of the situation. […]

  • Nutrition linked to brain health and intelligence in older adults
    on December 13, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    A study of older adults links consumption of a pigment found in leafy greens to the preservation of 'crystallized intelligence,' the ability to use the skills and knowledge one has acquired over a lifetime. […]

  • Learning makes animals intelligent
    on November 30, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    The fact that animals can use tools, have self-control and certain expectations of life can be explained with the help of a new learning model for animal behavior. Researchers have combined knowledge from the fields of artificial intelligence, ethology and the psychology of learning to solve several problems concerning the behavior and intelligence of animals. […]