Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar. ~Bradley Millar

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Can Animals Comprehend And Plan For the Future?

This is what I have been thinking for quite some time, but hadn't have that time to search for this info on the web. The last week I could manage to scoop some time out of my bustling schedule and got to learn about whether animals can perceive time and whether they can plan or comprehend things they might come across in future. I have made a post on my dog blog regarding how dogs perceive time. This post is all about whether animals are able to learn and plan without having an understanding of time.

Compared to us (human beings) animals have abilities to understand time to lesser extent. Humans have two distinctive abilities to comprehend time, viz. (1) ability to remember the sequence of events that had occurred in the past, and (2) ability to analyst the requirement that we may come across in the future. Experiments on working memory tests on animals have shown that animals also have these two abilities, but not as extensively as humans.

Researchers have experimented on the working memories (short term memories) and reference memories (long term memories) of animals in order to test how do animals remember the sequences of evens. Good news is that the animals performed quite well in those tests, but the researchers concluded that their memory faded out at a fast rate. According to the scientist William Roberts, who had experimented on animal memories, "animals were probably learning going from weakest memory to strongest memory, rather than actually 'learning' or 'remembering' a sequence."

Some of the other scientists who have been working on the similar kind of experiments, found that monkeys and pigeons did fairly good at the reference memories, which is the long term memories, in which they had been tested to check how well they could remember a sequence after a delayed time span between learning and testing. In this regarding Roberts said that they required extensive training session to learn these sequences. Roberts said, "the ability did not come naturally to them." Hence the researchers have concluded that animals would perceive time, but in a different way from humans. Compared to human beings animals have been seen to have a relatively less reliable and less sophisticated memory that help them to remember of sequence of events.

At the same time the researchers concluded that animals do not have good abilities to anticipate future needs, with which the researchers have drawn the conclusion that animals do not have any concept of future. Experiments on rates and pigeons have shown that they "chose a smaller immediate reward over the larger future reward", which directly proved that animals do not have ability to comprehend and plan the future. Another experimentation on primates had been carried out given a choice of "One (1) banana" and "Two (2) bananas". The primates picked the larger quantity - that is two bananas. Now when experiment had been carried out once again with five (5) and ten (10) bananas, in which the primates chose the lesser quantity, that is 5 bananas. Researchers William Roberts concluded that animals try to satisfy their immediate hunger, and do not have the ability to plan for the future.

Now all these experiments and their conclusions seem to be quite convincing. But if animals do not have the ability OR is they have less sophisticated ability to comprehend and plan for the future, why and how do ants tend to collect and gather enough food stuff before they go to hibernation during the winter?
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  1. My boyfriend actually created an ant city in my college campus. He made them two different paths by using two twigs to separate them and they now use one path to go to a tree and the other path towards the mud. He also made small burrows and they've been filling them up on their own; it's pretty amazing. Plus they use a crack in the cement as a freeway.

    1. Hello Adi... Thank you for stumbling upon by blog and dropping me a comment. Have also Checked out your blog... cool. keep up your great job. Keep in touch


In love of Animals

In Love of Animals is an animal lovers' blog that talks about animals and endangered species. This blog intend to share information about animals and spread out awareness about the protection of endangered animals. We want to raise our voice against animal killing and secret trading. Let the wild live in wild!

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Welcome to 'In Love of Animals'. This is an animal blog run by a single person (an animal lover). The content in this animal blog (In love of animals) are all well researched, with the information taken from various sources - both online and offline. All information about animals here are all well researched and the content are original, except the images that have been taken from the net. The motive is to make this animal blog a rich resource of animal information for animal lovers.

My animal blogs

I am an animal lover first - then a dog lover! I can hardly scoop time out of my tremendously busy schedule. This has made me too slow with blogging. I have a few animal blogs and this is one of them. You can find posts in these animal blogs not very frequently. My animal blogs are:
In love of animals
Welcome dog lovers
German shepherd dog information
Amazing animal videos
About German Shepherd Dog

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