What forms of human thinking are present on animals and protohumans?

What forms of human thinking are present on animals and protohumans?

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General idea

I'm trying to see what characteristics of human thinking are present on animals and protohumans. In other words, how our thought depends on previous forms of intelligence (because of evolution and particularly that of brain structure, I suppose).

Background and problem

Some days ago someone said on the streets:

Measuring means comparing.

And it became clear to me that comparison is fundamental for the way we relate to the world, for the way we think and see he world. Why A is bigger alleretter that B?

Another way we relate through the world is by analogy. Analogy and for extension metaphor are on the beginnings of language; comparison between one thing or another seems also ancestral. So there are two ways of thinking that might be identified with animals thinking.

The question

Are those ways of thinking present in earlier human beings or monkeys?

I don't expect a complete answer but some help for me to start. Links ecommendations of videos, essays, papers orr short books are very welcome. (I don't believe in long texts, I apologise for this)

Animal brains, especially mammals', are quite similar to humans. So far, attempts to define what makes human cognition "different" in some way have been for the most part a failure - the goal posts continue to be pushed. What seems to remain is a suggestion that human brains are especially socially-focused, and that humans have a uniquely developed ability to understand, plan, and simulate how others may be thinking (for example: Adolphs, R. (2003). Cognitive neuroscience: Cognitive neuroscience of human social behaviour. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 4(3), 165.).

However, we don't even need to look to apes, primates, or even mammals, to see cognitive abilities of the types that you mention.

For example, at least some birds are capable of quite a lot. As far as easily digestible material, there is a NOVA program on animal minds. I have only seen the bird episode, so I cannot speak to the others.

Although for the made-for-TV format a lot of the details are omitted for the sake of brevity, the program attempts to test the hypothesis that birds are capable of some advanced behaviors that are not attributable to simple memorization or repeated tasks. These include the ability to solve novel puzzles, and to learn hierarchical relationships of the form: X>Y and Y>Z therefore X>Z.

Some others from a variety of species:

Monkeys learning the value of tokens:

Addessi, E., Crescimbene, L., & Visalberghi, E. (2007). Do capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) use tokens as symbols?. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 274(1625), 2579-2585.

Basic arithmetic in chimpanzees:

Rumbaugh, D. M., Savage-Rumbaugh, E. S., and Hegel, M. T. (1987). Summation in the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). J. Exp. Psychol. Anim. Behav. Process. 13, 107-115.

A paper and further discussion on generalization of a learned rule in birds:

Kamil, A. C. & Jones, J. J. 1997. The seed-storing corvid Clark's nutcrackers learns geometric relationships among landmarks. Nature, 390, 276-279.

Biegler, R., McGregor, A. & Healy, S. D. 1999. How do animals 'do' geometry? Animal Behaviour, 57, F4-F8

Kamil, Alan and Jones, Juli E., "How do they, indeed? A reply to Biegler et al." (1999). Avian Cognition Papers. 12.

Macaques recognizing themselves in the mirror

Rajala, A. Z., Reininger, K. R., Lancaster, K. M., & Populin, L. C. (2010). Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) do recognize themselves in the mirror: implications for the evolution of self-recognition. PloS one, 5(9), e12865.

Monkeys reject unequal pay

Brosnan, S. F., & De Waal, F. B. (2003). Monkeys reject unequal pay. Nature, 425(6955), 297.

And I could go on and on - these are just a few examples, not necessarily the best or most current ones. What you will see that all these works share is that it is very difficult to probe animal behavior, because it is often difficult to rule out alternative strategies as we impose our own cognitive biases on animal behavior.

That said, it seems very unlikely that most of the higher-order cognitive skills humans possess are in any way unique to humans. Some specifics like the exact structure of human language are probably fairly specialized, but other social animals also have forms of language, it may just not be as complex or developed as human language.

I'll close with what I find to be a couple cartoons that are highly insightful in this area of research:

The 4 Stages of Cognitive Development

Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development suggests that children move through four different stages of mental development. His theory focuses not only on understanding how children acquire knowledge, but also on understanding the nature of intelligence.   Piaget's stages are:

  • Sensorimotor stage: birth to 2 years : ages 2 to 7
  • Concrete operational stage: ages 7 to 11
  • Formal operational stage: ages 12 and up

Piaget believed that children take an active role in the learning process, acting much like little scientists as they perform experiments, make observations, and learn about the world. As kids interact with the world around them, they continually add new knowledge, build upon existing knowledge, and adapt previously held ideas to accommodate new information.

Are Humans Animals Argumentative Essay

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According to the MacMillan dictionary, an animal is “any living thing that is not human.” Accepting this definition as fact, there should be no debate whether or not humans are animals as I argue this fact I will present further proof that at no time since the world exists humans were ever animals.
The fact that many scientists refused to accept the Bible as authentic, has caused many debates about humans’ origin. Many scientists believe that humans are an evolvement from a one cell organism and over many millions years of changing they finally become human. The more scientists try to prove their theory is the less they prove it. "It may seem ridiculous for science to have been talking about humans and prehumans and protohumans for more than a century without ever nailing down what a human was” (Menton, 1988). If man were several evolutionary process, then scientists should be able to pinpoint the animal’s evolution into human, what and when will the next development be, and why the metamorphism of man’s next stage has not yet began. Scientists must find more authentic proof and be in accordance with their facts if they are going to prove their hypothesis.
The only writing that has withstood the test of time is the Bible. The scientists have already lost their argument, how do they explain man’s jump from ape to man after they spent millions of years becoming an ape. “The question is not that of progressive order in the creation as a whole, but of the development of superior species from inferior by mere natural laws,--and especially the development of man from animals next below him in the scale of life “ (Thompson 1870). One does not even have to be a Christian to accept the biblical facts of creation because so far creation is the most credible and logical argument. No power could allow life on planet earth other than the omniscience God who knows that human would need air, water, and food to survive. All the things that are provided on this earth for human comfort could never be a mishap and scientist can test their hypothesis forever, they will never find an explanation more logical or accurate than the Genesis story, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
Scientist are like a stubborn child, you tell him that the ants will bite and he refuses to believe, to prove his point, he stands in the ant hill and when the ants begin to bite he suffers rather than admit defeat. If man were not created how do scientist account for the different races? Scientists would like to convince everyone that man’s existence on earth is chance, that evolution could have taken a different turn if this were true how did a chance encounter produce bodies that are made the same, function the same, and more importantly, why man cannot survive with the heart of an ape, considering that apes are our fore parents. Dr. Werner Gitt says “Primeval soup, primitive slime, primeval cell single-celled organisms then became multi-cellular: worms, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, primitive primates, apes, ape-men, hominids, man” (2012). This is his mythical description of man’s appearance on earth. Can Dr. Gitt explain to his readers where and how did the slush get to earth, and are we going to wake up one morning and discover that our pet dog has turned into human? Before the flood the Bible says that God regretted that he made man when he looked at their wickedness. God must be very displeased as he watches man travestied his creation.
There is no other theory for man’s existence than the facts of the Bible that man was created in God’s image he created a world that would provide for man the utmost comfort and one day he will destroy sin and return the earth and man to their original beauty.

7.1 What Is Cognition?

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Describe cognition
  • Distinguish concepts and prototypes
  • Explain the difference between natural and artificial concepts

Imagine all of your thoughts as if they were physical entities, swirling rapidly inside your mind. How is it possible that the brain is able to move from one thought to the next in an organized, orderly fashion? The brain is endlessly perceiving, processing, planning, organizing, and remembering—it is always active. Yet, you don’t notice most of your brain’s activity as you move throughout your daily routine. This is only one facet of the complex processes involved in cognition. Simply put, cognition is thinking, and it encompasses the processes associated with perception, knowledge, problem solving, judgment, language, and memory. Scientists who study cognition are searching for ways to understand how we integrate, organize, and utilize our conscious cognitive experiences without being aware of all of the unconscious work that our brains are doing (for example, Kahneman, 2011).

Upon waking each morning, you begin thinking—contemplating the tasks that you must complete that day. In what order should you run your errands? Should you go to the bank, the cleaners, or the grocery store first? Can you get these things done before you head to class or will they need to wait until school is done? These thoughts are one example of cognition at work. Exceptionally complex, cognition is an essential feature of human consciousness, yet not all aspects of cognition are consciously experienced.

Cognitive psychology is the field of psychology dedicated to examining how people think. It attempts to explain how and why we think the way we do by studying the interactions among human thinking, emotion, creativity, language, and problem solving, in addition to other cognitive processes. Cognitive psychologists strive to determine and measure different types of intelligence, why some people are better at problem solving than others, and how emotional intelligence affects success in the workplace, among countless other topics. They also sometimes focus on how we organize thoughts and information gathered from our environments into meaningful categories of thought, which will be discussed later.


The human nervous system is capable of handling endless streams of information. The senses serve as the interface between the mind and the external environment, receiving stimuli and translating it into nervous impulses that are transmitted to the brain. The brain then processes this information and uses the relevant pieces to create thoughts, which can then be expressed through language or stored in memory for future use. To make this process more complex, the brain does not gather information from external environments only. When thoughts are formed, the brain also pulls information from emotions and memories (Figure7.2). Emotion and memory are powerful influences on both our thoughts and behaviors.

Figure 7.2 Sensations and information are received by our brains, filtered through emotions and memories, and processed to become thoughts.

In order to organize this staggering amount of information, the brain has developed a file cabinet of sorts in the mind. The different files stored in the file cabinet are called concepts. Concepts are categories or groupings of linguistic information, images, ideas, or memories, such as life experiences. Concepts are, in many ways, big ideas that are generated by observing details, and categorizing and combining these details into cognitive structures. You use concepts to see the relationships among the different elements of your experiences and to keep the information in your mind organized and accessible.

Concepts are informed by our semantic memory (you learned about this concept when you studied memory) and are present in every aspect of our lives however, one of the easiest places to notice concepts is inside a classroom, where they are discussed explicitly. When you study United States history, for example, you learn about more than just individual events that have happened in America’s past. You absorb a large quantity of information by listening to and participating in discussions, examining maps, and reading first-hand accounts of people’s lives. Your brain analyzes these details and develops an overall understanding of American history. In the process, your brain gathers details that inform and refine your understanding of related concepts like democracy, power, and freedom.

Concepts can be complex and abstract, like justice, or more concrete, like types of birds. In psychology, for example, Piaget’s stages of development are abstract concepts. Some concepts, like tolerance, are agreed upon by many people, because they have been used in various ways over many years. Other concepts, like the characteristics of your ideal friend or your family’s birthday traditions, are personal and individualized. In this way, concepts touch every aspect of our lives, from our many daily routines to the guiding principles behind the way governments function.

Another technique used by your brain to organize information is the identification of prototypes for the concepts you have developed. A prototype is the best example or representation of a concept. For example, for the category of civil disobedience, your prototype could be Rosa Parks. Her peaceful resistance to segregation on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, is a recognizable example of civil disobedience. Or your prototype could be Mohandas Gandhi, sometimes called Mahatma Gandhi (“Mahatma” is an honorific title) (Figure 7.3).

Figure 7.3 In 1930, Mohandas Gandhi led a group in peaceful protest against a British tax on salt in India.

Mohandas Gandhi served as a nonviolent force for independence for India while simultaneously demanding that Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian leaders—both Indian and British—collaborate peacefully. Although he was not always successful in preventing violence around him, his life provides a steadfast example of the civil disobedience prototype (Constitutional Rights Foundation, 2013). Just as concepts can be abstract or concrete, we can make a distinction between concepts that are functions of our direct experience with the world and those that are more artificial in nature.


In psychology, concepts can be divided into two categories, natural and artificial. Natural concepts are created “naturally” through your experiences and can be developed from either direct or indirect experiences. For example, if you live in Essex Junction, Vermont, you have probably had a lot of direct experience with snow. You’ve watched it fall from the sky, you’ve seen lightly falling snow that barely covers the windshield of your car, and you’ve shoveled out 18 inches of fluffy white snow as you’ve thought, “This is perfect for skiing.” You’ve thrown snowballs at your best friend and gone sledding down the steepest hill in town. In short, you know snow. You know what it looks like, smells like, tastes like, and feels like. If, however, you’ve lived your whole life on the island of Saint Vincent in the Caribbean, you may never have actually seen snow, much less tasted, smelled, or touched it. You know snow from the indirect experience of seeing pictures of falling snow—or from watching films that feature snow as part of the setting. Either way, snow is a natural concept because you can construct an understanding of it through direct observations or experiences of snow (Figure 7.4).

Figure 7.4 (a) Our concept of snow is an example of a natural concept—one that we understand through direct observation and experience. (b) In contrast, artificial concepts are ones that we know by a specific set of characteristics that they always exhibit, such as what defines different basic shapes. (credit a: modification of work by Maarten Takens credit b: modification of work by “Shayan (USA)”/Flickr)

An artificial concept, on the other hand, is a concept that is defined by a specific set of characteristics. Various properties of geometric shapes, like squares and triangles, serve as useful examples of artificial concepts. A triangle always has three angles and three sides. A square always has four equal sides and four right angles. Mathematical formulas, like the equation for area (length × width) are artificial concepts defined by specific sets of characteristics that are always the same. Artificial concepts can enhance the understanding of a topic by building on one another. For example, before learning the concept of “area of a square” (and the formula to find it), you must understand what a square is. Once the concept of “area of a square” is understood, an understanding of area for other geometric shapes can be built upon the original understanding of area. The use of artificial concepts to define an idea is crucial to communicating with others and engaging in complex thought. According to Goldstone and Kersten (2003), concepts act as building blocks and can be connected in countless combinations to create complex thoughts.

A schema is a mental construct consisting of a cluster or collection of related concepts (Bartlett, 1932). There are many different types of schemata, and they all have one thing in common: schemata are a method of organizing information that allows the brain to work more efficiently. When a schema is activated, the brain makes immediate assumptions about the person or object being observed.

There are several types of schemata. A role schema makes assumptions about how individuals in certain roles will behave (Callero, 1994). For example, imagine you meet someone who introduces himself as a firefighter. When this happens, your brain automatically activates the “firefighter schema” and begins making assumptions that this person is brave, selfless, and community-oriented. Despite not knowing this person, already you have unknowingly made judgments about him. Schemata also help you fill in gaps in the information you receive from the world around you. While schemata allow for more efficient information processing, there can be problems with schemata, regardless of whether they are accurate: Perhaps this particular firefighter is not brave, he just works as a firefighter to pay the bills while studying to become a children’s librarian.

An event schema, also known as a cognitive script, is a set of behaviors that can feel like a routine. Think about what you do when you walk into an elevator (Figure 7.5). First, the doors open and you wait to let exiting passengers leave the elevator car. Then, you step into the elevator and turn around to face the doors, looking for the correct button to push. You never face the back of the elevator, do you? And when you’re riding in a crowded elevator and you can’t face the front, it feels uncomfortable, doesn’t it? Interestingly, event schemata can vary widely among different cultures and countries. For example, while it is quite common for people to greet one another with a handshake in the United States, in Tibet, you greet someone by sticking your tongue out at them, and in Belize, you bump fists (Cairns Regional Council, n.d.)

Figure 7.5 What event schema do you perform when riding in an elevator? (credit: “Gideon”/Flickr)

Because event schemata are automatic, they can be difficult to change. Imagine that you are driving home from work or school. This event schema involves getting in the car, shutting the door, and buckling your seatbelt before putting the key in the ignition. You might perform this script two or three times each day. As you drive home, you hear your phone’s ring tone. Typically, the event schema that occurs when you hear your phone ringing involves locating the phone and answering it or responding to your latest text message. So without thinking, you reach for your phone, which could be in your pocket, in your bag, or on the passenger seat of the car. This powerful event schema is informed by your pattern of behavior and the pleasurable stimulation that a phone call or text message gives your brain. Because it is a schema, it is extremely challenging for us to stop reaching for the phone, even though we know that we endanger our own lives and the lives of others while we do it (Neyfakh, 2013) (Figure 7.6).

Figure 7.6 Texting while driving is dangerous, but it is a difficult event schema for some people to resist.

Remember the elevator? It feels almost impossible to walk in and not face the door. Our powerful event schema dictates our behavior in the elevator, and it is no different with our phones. Current research suggests that it is the habit, or event schema, of checking our phones in many different situations that makes refraining from checking them while driving especially difficult (Bayer & Campbell, 2012). Because texting and driving has become a dangerous epidemic in recent years, psychologists are looking at ways to help people interrupt the “phone schema” while driving. Event schemata like these are the reason why many habits are difficult to break once they have been acquired. As we continue to examine thinking, keep in mind how powerful the forces of concepts and schemata are to our understanding of the world.

The Main Differences: In Depth

While many scholars may add to this list, this article will examine seven properties that are largely unique to human language: duality, creativity, displacement, interchangeability, cultural transmission, arbitrariness, and biology.

Duality of patterning: Distinctive sounds, called phonemes, are arbitrary and have no meaning. But humans can string these sounds in an infinite number of ways to create meaning via words and sentences.

The primary difference is known as duality of patterning, or structure. Each human language has a fixed number of sound units called "phonemes." These phonemes are combined to make morphemes, the smallest unit of sound that contains meaning. Thus, language has got two levels of patterning that are not present in other animals&apos communication.

Yet another distinctive feature is creativity. Human beings use their linguistic resources to produce new expressions and sentences. They arrange and rearrange phonemes, morphemes, words, and phrases in a way that can express an infinite number of ideas. This is also called the open-endedness of language. Animal communication is a closed system. It cannot produce new signals to communicate novel events or experiences.


Displacement: Human language can talk about things that aren&apost happening here or now. Other animals react only to stimuli in the present.

Human beings can talk of real or imaginary situations, places, or objects far removed from their present surroundings and time. Other animals, on the other hand, communicate in reaction to a stimulus in the immediate environment, such as food or danger. Because of this, human language is considered context-free, whereas animal communication is mostly context bound.


Human language is interchangeable between sexes. But certain communications in animal world are performed only by one gender. For example, bee dancing is only performed by worker bees, which are female.

Cultural Transmission

Cultural Transmission: Human language is culturally transmitted, or taught. Other animals communicate largely with signs they are born knowing.

Another important difference is that human language is culturally transmitted. Human beings brought up in different cultures acquire different languages. Man can also learn other languages via the influence of other cultures. Animals lack this capacity. Their communication ability is transmitted biologically, so they are unable to learn other languages.


Human language is a symbolic system. The signs, or words, in language have no inherent connection to what they signify, or mean (that&aposs why one object can have so many names in different languages). These signs can also be written with the symbols, or alphabet, of that language. Both verbal and written language can be passed down to future generations. Animal communication is not symbolic, which means ideas cannot be preserved for the future.

Biological differences also play a vital role in communication. Human vocal cords can produce a large number of sounds. Each human language uses a number of those sounds. Animal and birds have entirely different biological structures, which impact the way they can form sounds.

Human Abilities: Meaning and Nature | Educational Psychology

A human ability is a union of a native process (or processes) in humans and a content (or contents) inferred from relatively permanent changes in behaviour. Abilities are of two kinds: Cognitive and Psycho­motor. When a child understands the meaning of a statement in acquiring language or comprehending a word, his understanding means a process or operation and also certain content i.e. words or their meaning.

A psychomotor ability, on the other hand, helps a human being to acquire specific skill for a specific work, e.g. manual dexterity needs acquisition of skill as well as well-guided arm-hand movement while manipu­lating an object. Persons high in this ability are able to perform any specific task involving manual dexterity.

Both cognitive and psychomotor abilities are the products of maturation and learning. In turn, possessing a particular ability facilitates further learning. Extensive researches con­ducted on human abilities have yielded beneficial results, so that it is now possible to easily identify and classify different human abilities.

As a consequence, important advances have been made in this research area and a series of new formations about the intellectual and learning abilities have been obtained. Substantial knowledge about human abilities are in store following hard work of different researchers in this field.

It has been established that abilities develop quite slowly across the years, but once developed they enable the individual to deal with his physical and social .world more effectively.

Nature of Human Abilities:

The identification of abilities by scientific methods is a complex process. An ability is, in fact, a configuration of abilities, identified through correlational and Experimental research. Any single ability needs consistency among separate performances involving that ability. In that sense an ability is a mediator which helps the individual to interpret the ideas and actions of others as well as to take action all by himself.

Fleishman and Bartlett (1969) in a comprehensive work on human abilities identified five important attributes of abilities:

1. Abilities are a product of maturation and learning. Much practice and learning are required to comprehend the concepts and principles of any subject. The maturational level of an individual child limits what he can learn. Thus abilities develop and mature at different rates from birth through adolescence. For example, verbal comprehension develops more rapidly than arithmetic reasoning in early childhood.

2. Abilities developed during the formative years permeates into adulthood and persists throughout the period.

3. The present abilities of the individual affect the rate at which he learns related new tasks. Thus, the student high in spatial ability and arithmetic reasoning achieves higher in physics than the one low in both, motivations and other factors being equal. Equally important is that the study of physics will probably contribute to further development of both abilities. They complement each other.

4. Abilities vary from specific to general, and the more general the ability the greater is its transfer. Arithmetic computation e.g., is an ability which facilitates only the learning of new tasks involving computation, whereas spatial ability facilitates the learning of broad classes of tasks in mathematics, science, engineering and other technical areas.

5. Abilities are more fundamental than skills. The term ‘skill’ refers to the level of proficiency on a unitary task or a configuration of tasks.

Basic abilities are basically involved in performing each skill. To summarize, an ability is:

(a) A product of maturation and learning

(b) Developed during the formative years persists in adulthood

(c) That the present abilities of the individual influence the rate at which he learns related new tasks

(d) That one ability may underlie performance on more specific tasks than another

(e) More fundamental than a skill.

On the contrary, Cronbach (1970) shows that there is very little distinction between abilities, skills and achievements— one is the complement to the other. People develop the skills and achieve with an underlying ability through practice. Now, as they develop their skills and consequent achievements, the underlying abilities are also being improved—skills and achievements are, hence, considered synonymous.

Crows Understand Analogies

People are fascinated by the intelligence of animals. In fact, cave paintings dating back some 40,000 years suggest that we have long harbored keen interest in animal behavior and cognition. Part of that interest may have been practical: animals can be dangerous, they can be sources of food and clothing, and they can serve as sentries or mousers.

But, another part of that fascination is purely theoretical. Because animals resemble us in form, perhaps they also resemble us in thought. For many philosophers&mdashincluding René Descartes and John Locke&mdashgranting intelligence to animals was a bridge too far. They especially deemed abstract reasoning to be uniquely human and to perfectly distinguish people from &ldquobrutes.&rdquo Why? Because animals do not speak, they must have no thoughts.

Nevertheless, undeterred by such pessimistic pronouncements, informed by Darwin&rsquos theory of evolution, and guided by the maxim that &ldquoactions speak more loudly than words,&rdquo researchers today are fashioning powerful behavioral tests that provide nonverbal ways for animals to disclose their intelligence to us. Although animals may not use words, their behavior may serve as a suitable substitute its study may allow us to jettison the stale convention that thought without language is impossible.

A recent research collaboration between Moscow State University and here at the University of Iowa has discovered that crows exhibit strong behavioral signs of analogical reasoning&mdashthe ability to solve puzzles like &ldquobird is to air as fish is to what?&rdquo Analogical reasoning is considered to be the pinnacle of cognition and it only develops in humans between the ages of three and four.

Why might crows be promising animals to study? Of course, crows are reputed to be clever. Aesop&rsquos famous fable &ldquoThe Crow and the Pitcher&rdquo tells of a crow solving a challenging problem: the thirsty crow drops pebbles into a pitcher with water near the bottom, thereby raising the fluid level high enough to permit the bird to drink. Such tales are charming and provocative, but science cannot rely on them.

Recent scientific research sought to corroborate this fable. It found that crows given a similar problem dropped stones into a tube containing water, but not into a tube containing sand. Crows also chose to drop solid rather than hollow objects into the water tube. It thus seems that crows do indeed understand basic cause-effect relations. Such causal understanding is no minor feat children struggle with tasks like this until they are 5 years old!

Furthermore, crows are renowned for crafting and using tools. They can carve thin strips of wood into skewers and bend wires into hooks to collect otherwise inaccessible food.

But, what happens when crows are given problems that require more abstract thinking? Before setting our sights on analogical reasoning, we might begin with simpler abstract task. For example, sameness and differentness are key abstract ideas, because two or more items of any kind&mdashcoins, cups, caps, or cars&mdashcan be the same as or different from one another. Because sameness and differentness can be detected visually, perhaps that may provide an elegant way to study their apprehension by nonverbal animals.

Animals do readily learn to report sets of identical visual items as &ldquosame&rdquo and sets of non-identical items as &ldquodifferent.&rdquo To do so, we present visual stimuli on a touchscreen monitor. We reward animals with food for contacting one button when sets contain identical items and we reward animals for contacting a second button when sets contain non-identical items. Several species of birds and mammals learn this task and also transfer their learning to new stimuli, showing that they have learned an abstract concept, which extends beyond the training items.

Devising a task to study analogical thinking in animals is the next step. Here, the gist of analogycan be captured by arranging a matching task in which the relevant logical arguments are presented in the form of visual stimuli. Using letters of the alphabet for explanatory purposes, choosing test pair BB would be correct if the sample pair were AA, whereas choosing test pair EF would be correct if the sample pair were CD. Stated logically, A:A as B:B (same = same) and C:D as E:F (different = different). Critically, no items in the correct test pair physically match any of the items in the sample pair so, only the analogical relation of sameness can be used to solve the task.

Early research suggested that only humans and apes can learn this analogy task however, a more recent project indicated that baboons too can learn to select the pair of items that depicts the analogous same or different relationship as the sample pair.

Now, we have found that crows too can exhibit analogical thinking. Ed Wasserman, one of the authors of this article, and his colleagues in Moscow, Anna Smirnova, Zoya Zorina, and Tanya Obozova, first trained hooded crows on several tasks in which they had to match items that were the same as one another. The crows were presented with a tray containing three cups. The middle cup was covered by a card picturing a color, a shape, or a number of items. The other two side cups were also covered by cards&mdashone the same as and one different from the middle card. The cup under the matching card contained food, but the cup under the nonmatching card was empty. Crows quickly learned to choose the matching card and to do so more quickly from one task to the next.

Then, the critical test was given. Each card now pictured a pair of items. The middle card would display pairs AA or CD, and the two side cards would display pair BB and pair EF. The relation between one pair of items must be appreciated and then applied to a new pair of items to generate the correct answer: the BB card in the case of AA or the EF card in the case of CD. For instance, if the middle card displayed a circle and a cross, then the correct choice would be the side card containing a square and a triangle rather than the side card containing two squares.

Not only could the crows correctly perform this task, but they did so spontaneously, from the very first presentations, without ever being trained to do so.

It seems that initial training to match identical items enabled the crows to grasp a broadly applicable concept of sameness that could apply to the novel two-item analogy task. Such robust and uninstructed behavior represents the most convincing evidence yet of analogical reasoning in a non-primate animal, as only apes had spontaneously shown analogical reasoning after learning to match identical items.

What then are the limits of animal intelligence? That, we assert, is an entirely empirical question. It is not a question to be answered by anthropocentric philosophizing. As the author Jack London wrote over a century ago: &ldquoYou must not deny your relatives, the other animals. This may be good egotism, but it is not good science.&rdquo

Are you a scientist who specializes in neuroscience, cognitive science, or psychology? And have you read a recent peer-reviewed paper that you would like to write about? Please send suggestions to Mind Matters editor Gareth Cook. Gareth, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, is the series editor of Best American Infographics and can be reached at garethideas AT or Twitter @garethideas.


Leyre Castro, Research Scientist in the Department of Psychology at the University of Iowa, studies learning and advanced cognition in humans and other animals. Ed Wasserman, the Stuit Professor of Experimental Psychology in the Department of Psychology at the University of Iowa, focuses on comparative analyses of cognition and behavior between humans and other animals.

Out of Africa

Anatomically modern humans are thought to have emigrated from Africa to populate the rest of the world over a long period of time. Settlements on the Red Sea coast dated to 125 000 years ago have been linked to a migration route across the mouth of the Red Sea and along the coast of South Asia, eventually reaching Australia either 60 000 years ago (Thorne et al. 1999 Stringer, 2000 Walter et al. 2000) or 45 000 years ago (O𠆜onnell & Allen, 2004). This migration (according to the dates of Walter et al. 2000) took place at a time when low sea levels would have enabled people to reach Indonesia without crossing the sea. It was only the crossing to New Guinea and Australia that would have required the use of boats or rafts, although this, too, could have been accomplished by land (via the Sahul landmass) if the later dates of O𠆜onnell & Allen (2004) are correct. Genetic data support the idea that the migration out of Africa took the form of serial exodus events by genetically different populations (Deshpande et al. 2009). This view is also supported by studies on neurocranial morphometrics of fossil skulls in Africa and geographically dispersed and extant human groups (Gunz et al. 2009) but is disputed on archaeological grounds by Mellars (2006), who prefers the interpretation that a single dispersal event took a southern route around Asia to arrive in Australia around 45 000 BP, with a branch that led north from Western Asia to Europe.

It is clear that the neurological potential to create art, and probably the creation of art, was established before H. sapiens left Africa but we cannot know whether regional stylistic differences were already established within each emigrating group or were acquired en route or in their final destinations. The archaeological record is more generous in information on tool-making and it is beyond doubt that all of these H. sapiens groups left Africa with an accomplished ability to create 3D tools with a great variety of forms and applications, and that they were more advanced than H. erectus and H. heidelbergensis in manual dexterity and cognition.

No artistic style is static, so the passage of time and generations, with different cultural and environmental influences, changes in climate, different available materials and technological skills, not to mention specific highly-gifted individuals, must have been important factors influencing stylistic development, culminating in the regional variety apparent in world art today. Regional variety of artistic style is apparent within Africa as well as around the world the rock paintings of the Khoisan groups of South Africa have more in common with Upper Palaeolithic European cave art than with the large ceremonial items and smaller sculptures in terra cotta, wood and ivory dating from the late 10th century to the present day that are on display in ethnological museums such as the exceptionally fine collection in Berlin (Koloss, 2002) and the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford. One can also see, in the formalized animal and �stract’ pattern combinations portrayed in some of the cloth artwork of Southern Africa, a resemblance to some of the traditional art of North Australia (personal observations). These examples are intimations that, like the genetic differences, there is (and/or was) at least as great a variety within Africa as in the world as a whole.

It was not until the Upper Palaeolithic, 45 000 years ago at the earliest, that anatomically modern humans populated Europe. This was a relatively late event, given that the earliest evidence of modern human occupation of Australia dates from this date or earlier. To claim that art originated de novo in Upper Palaeolithic Europe is to claim either that the early Europeans took their creative impulses and skills back to Africa or that art within Africa developed later than that of Europe and wholly independently of it. Both seem unlikely.

What forms of human thinking are present on animals and protohumans? - Psychology

  1. Matter (potentiality)
  2. Form (actuality)
  3. The compound of matter and form

Grades of Actuality and Potentiality

  1. Aristotle distinguishes between two levels of actuality ( entelecheia ). At 412a11 he gives knowing and attending as examples of these two kinds of actuality. (It has become traditional to call these first and second actuality, respectively.) At 412a22-26 he elaborates this example and adds this one: being asleep vs. being awake . But he does not fully clarify this important distinction until II.5 (417a22-30), to which we now turn.

  1. is a human being.
  2. has grammatical knowledge.
  3. is attending to something.

A knower in sense (a) is someone with a mere potential to know something, but no actual knowledge. (Not everything has this potential, of course. E.g., a rock or an earthworm has no such potential.) A knower in sense (b) has some actual knowledge (for example, she may know that it is ungrammatical to say “with John and I”), even though she is not actually thinking about it right now. A knower in sense (c) is actually exercising her knowledge (for example, she thinks “that’s ungrammatical” when she hears someone say “with John and I”).

  1. First potentiality
  2. Second potentiality = first actuality
  3. Second actuality

  1. First potentiality: a child who does not speak French.
  2. Second potentiality (first actuality): a (silent) adult who speaks French.
  3. Second actuality: an adult speaking (or actively understanding) French.

A child (unlike a rock or an earthworm) can (learn to) speak French. A Frenchman (unlike a French infant, and unlike most Americans) can actually speak French, even though he is silent at the moment. Someone who is actually speaking French is, of course, the paradigm case of a French speaker.

  • Self-nourishment
  • Growth
  • Decay
  • Movement and rest (in respect of place)
  • Perception
  • Intellect

Degrees of soul

  1. Growth, nutrition, (reproduction)
  2. Locomotion, perception
  3. Intellect (= thought)

  1. Nutritive soul (plants)
  2. Sensitive soul (all animals)
  3. Rational soul (human beings)

Soul and Body

  1. A key question for the ancient Greeks (as it still is for many people today) is whether the soul can exist independently of the body. (Anyone who believes in personal immortality is committed to the independent existence of the soul.) Plato (as we know from the Phaedo ) certainly thought that the soul could exist separately. Here is what Aristotle has to say on this topic:

    There is no inner/outer contrast. The soul is not an inner spectator, in direct contact only with its own perceptions and other psychic states, having to infer the existence of a body and an “external” world.

There is thus no notion of the privacy of experience, the incorrigibility of the mental, etc., in Aristotle’s picture.

It is thus not a separable soul. (It is, at most, pure thought, devoid of personality, that is separable from the body on Aristotle’s account.)

The Research Hypothesis

Theories are usually framed too broadly to be tested in a single experiment. Therefore, scientists use a more precise statement of the presumed relationship among specific parts of a theory—a research hypothesis—as the basis for their research. A research hypothesis is a specific and falsifiable prediction about the relationship between or among two or more variables, where a variable is any attribute that can assume different values among different people or across different times or places. The research hypothesis states the existence of a relationship between the variables of interest and the specific direction of that relationship. For instance, the research hypothesis “Using marijuana will reduce learning” predicts that there is a relationship between a variable “using marijuana” and another variable called “learning.” Similarly, in the research hypothesis “Participating in psychotherapy will reduce anxiety,” the variables that are expected to be related are “participating in psychotherapy” and “level of anxiety.”

When stated in an abstract manner, the ideas that form the basis of a research hypothesis are known as conceptual variables. Conceptual variables are abstract ideas that form the basis of research hypotheses. Sometimes the conceptual variables are rather simple—for instance, “age,” “gender,” or “weight.” In other cases the conceptual variables represent more complex ideas, such as “anxiety,” “cognitive development,” “learning,” self-esteem,” or “sexism.”

The first step in testing a research hypothesis involves turning the conceptual variables into measured variables , which are variables consisting of numbers that represent the conceptual variables. For instance, the conceptual variable “participating in psychotherapy” could be represented as the measured variable “number of psychotherapy hours the patient has accrued” and the conceptual variable “using marijuana” could be assessed by having the research participants rate, on a scale from 1 to 10, how often they use marijuana or by administering a blood test that measures the presence of the chemicals in marijuana.

Psychologists use the term operational definition to refer to a precise statement of how a conceptual variable is turned into a measured variable. The relationship between conceptual and measured variables in a research hypothesis is diagrammed in Figure 2.1 “Diagram of a Research Hypothesis”. The conceptual variables are represented within circles at the top of the figure, and the measured variables are represented within squares at the bottom. The two vertical arrows, which lead from the conceptual variables to the measured variables, represent the operational definitions of the two variables. The arrows indicate the expectation that changes in the conceptual variables (psychotherapy and anxiety in this example) will cause changes in the corresponding measured variables. The measured variables are then used to draw inferences about the conceptual variables.

Figure 2.1 Diagram of a Research Hypothesis

In this research hypothesis, the conceptual variable of attending psychotherapy is operationalized using the number of hours of psychotherapy the client has completed, and the conceptual variable of anxiety is operationalized using self-reported levels of anxiety. The research hypothesis is that more psychotherapy will be related to less reported anxiety.

Table 2.1 “Examples of the Operational Definitions of Conceptual Variables That Have Been Used in Psychological Research” lists some potential operational definitions of conceptual variables that have been used in psychological research. As you read through this list, note that in contrast to the abstract conceptual variables, the measured variables are very specific. This specificity is important for two reasons. First, more specific definitions mean that there is less danger that the collected data will be misunderstood by others. Second, specific definitions will enable future researchers to replicate the research.

Table 2.1 Examples of the Operational Definitions of Conceptual Variables That Have Been Used in Psychological Research

  • Number of presses of a button that administers shock to another student
  • Number of seconds taken to honk the horn at the car ahead after a stoplight turns green
  • Number of inches that an individual places his or her chair away from another person
  • Number of millimeters of pupil dilation when one person looks at another
  • Number of days per month an employee shows up to work on time
  • Rating of job satisfaction from 1 (not at all satisfied) to 9 (extremely satisfied)
  • Number of groups able to correctly solve a group performance task
  • Number of seconds in which a person solves a problem
  • Number of negative words used in a creative story
  • Number of appointments made with a psychotherapist

The 4 Stages of Cognitive Development

Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development suggests that children move through four different stages of mental development. His theory focuses not only on understanding how children acquire knowledge, but also on understanding the nature of intelligence.   Piaget's stages are:

  • Sensorimotor stage: birth to 2 years : ages 2 to 7
  • Concrete operational stage: ages 7 to 11
  • Formal operational stage: ages 12 and up

Piaget believed that children take an active role in the learning process, acting much like little scientists as they perform experiments, make observations, and learn about the world. As kids interact with the world around them, they continually add new knowledge, build upon existing knowledge, and adapt previously held ideas to accommodate new information.