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The Cognitive Abilities of Species - Case Study Example

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This paper "The Cognitive Abilities of Species" discusses the cognitive abilities of various species being attributed entirely to ecological forces encountered during their evolutionary history. Evolutionary ancestry, cognitive abilities, survival prerequisites…
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The Cognitive Abilities of Species
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Download file to see previous pages Animals from lower taxa have shown unexpected levels of sensory abilities in the context of their ecological niches. At the same time, in primates, increasing levels of performance have been evident from prosimians to Great Apes on tasks such as reversal learning.

The efficiency of adaptive behaviour to the environment is related to the massive complexity of the neural networks of the brain. The concept of Cognition explains the link between brain and behaviour. Theories are developed on observed behaviour, to help make testable predictions in natural environments, using the conceptual tools of cognitive science such as the theory of mind and problem-solving. Cognitive explanations can be related to brain structures, but among animals, further developments are required in imaging done under relatively natural conditions (Byrne and Bates 2006).

Several non-human species exhibit the ability to form concepts, most of which have physical manifestations. Understanding the concepts of ‘same’ and ‘different’ is not found in pigeons and goldfish, it is uncertain whether monkeys possess these concepts, while there is evidence that the Great Apes, especially chimpanzees have a strong understanding of these concepts. In the great apes, the same-different judgements are more advanced than mere conceptualization and include the skills for analogy and transitive inference, which indicate reasoning abilities (Lock and Colombo 1999).

Retrospective cognition by food-caching western Scrub Jays is an example of survival strategy explained by the species’ cognitive abilities developed by ecological forces experienced during their evolution (de Kort et al 2005). The scrub jay adds to its secret food cache, attempting to hide the stored food from pilferage by others. If they lack privacy, scrub jays choose to store food out of sight behind barriers, or if these are not available, they select poorly lighted spots which are furthest away from the view of the competitor. In circumstances where there is a complete lack of such options, scrub jays resort to confusing the competitor by re-caching their food in multiple spots.  ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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