chapter  11
17 Pages

The Study of Animal Cognitive Processes

WithAnthony A. Wright

This chapter focuses on the study of animal cognitive processes and why complex stimuli have become necessary. The field of animal learning, out of which grew animal cognition, has been infatuated with the discovery of general laws of learning. The approach taken, with near universal acceptance, has been to study learning in very simple, sterile environments with equally simple, sterile stimuli. An animal is trained in a matching-tosample, oddity-from-sample, or same/different task and then is tested for transfer to novel stimuli. The same issues associated with training an abstract concept with visual stimuli are shown to apply when training an abstract concept with auditory stimuli. Once performance was better than 80% correct, the 38 training sounds were reshuffled. The emergence of animal cognition as an alternative to animal learning has shifted the emphasis from features of individual stimuli to relations among/between stimulus features.