Tuesday, 22 September 2009

more studies of canine cognition

Slavenka has posted a link to an article in Time magazine about a study at Duke University in the US. The study will look at canine cognition. The article says
The work of these researchers won't just satisfy the curiosity of the millions of people who love their dogs; it may also lead to more effective ways to train ordinary dogs or--more important--working dogs that can sniff out bombs and guide the blind. At a deeper level, it may even tell us something about ourselves.
As I said when I wrote about a similar study at Harvard University, I don't see why we always have to relate such studies to some imagined benefit for humans.

But I guess they wouldn't get any funding otherwise.

An interesting point in the study is the idea that only dogs and humans can readily understand what is meant if someone points to something. A chimp can follow the gaze of other chimps and figure out what they can and cannot see, but chimps need lots of training to understand the significance of pointing. Yet young puppies can do so.

Penny understands pointing, but I thought we had taught that skill to her. Now I wonder whether she was genetically programmed to pick it up easily.

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