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PSYC 2330 UNIT 8 CH 11Comparative cognition is the study of animal behavior with a focus on the mechanisms used by animalsto acquire, process, store and act upon information from their surroundings. Comparative cognition is abroad area that can include perception and attention, learning, memory, problem solving and tool use.Studies of comparative cognition address questions like those of Darwin’s about the evolution ofintelligence.There is some controversy about what comparative cognition should encompass. Cognitive ethologistsclaim that animals are capable of conscious thought and intentionality. For contemporary experimentalpsychologists, animal cognition does not refer to voluntary or conscious reflection, nor does it implyawareness. Instead, it refers to the use of an internal representation, or mental record, of some pastexperience as a basis for action. These internal representations must be inferred from behavior and arethus a theoretical construct.Many people find animal behavior interesting. The biophilia hypothesis suggests that humans have aninherited predisposition to be drawn to nature, including other animals. This might explain why we liketo have pets, visit zoos, or hang bird feeders. The scientific approach to the investigation of nonhumananimal behavior must be careful of anthropomorphism which is the act of attributing human thoughts,emotions and intentions onto animals. This is often done in our favourite Disney movies with animalcharacters. A perfect example would be Disney’s Winnie the Pooh characters. To guard againstanthropomorphism, comparative researchers operationalize their variables in ways that can readily bereplicated and define behavior in ways that can be precisely measured.One of the leading areas of comparative cognition is the study of memory mechanisms. Memoryprocesses in animals has been an important area of study that presents unique challenges. Becauseanimals lack verbal ability, animal memory is inferred from the fact that current behavior can bepredicted from some aspect of earlier experiences. If an animal’s memory is identified by the fact thattheir current behavior has been influenced by earlier experiences, this suggests that learning is key tomemory. Learning is not possible without memory, but how can we tease these apart experimentally?Stages of Information ProcessingStudies of learning and of memory all involve three basic phases: acquisition, retention, and retrieval.Learning experiments tend to focus on the acquisition phase during which subjects are exposed tostimuli or information. Studies of memory focus on the retention and retrieval phases.The retention phase is a period where the acquired information is stored, for a period of time. A study byHendersen in 1985 showed the impressive memory for conditioning that animals can show after a 60-day retention interval. In this study, Hendersen paired a CS with a US of shock in rats. Following

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Term
Fall
Professor
Dr.FrancescoLeri
Tags
retrograde amnesia, researcher

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