Animal Cognition Field

In 1960s animals were viewed as quite simple systems. It was difficult to determine whether animals think simply judging from their behavior. After a close observation, researchers came to the conclusions that animals, no matter whether in their natural habitat or in laboratory conditions, demonstrate the ability to perceive information. This caused the appearance of the term ‘animal cognition’ that is the science which studies how animals communicate and learn.

As animals cannot talk, they have certain signs used for communication. Scientists needed almost a century to develop definitions and concepts about this term. Some researchers consider cognition as an adaptive trait as it helps animals cope with environmental needs and demands. The biological success of animals depends on their perception of information, its quality and quantity (Balda, Pepperberg and Kamil 1998). Cognition is the way in which animals perceive information about the surrounding world with the help of processes, retain, and senses.

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Being a cognitive process memory, learning, decision making and perception plays a vital role in the choice making, foraging and other behavioral features (Shettleworth 2001). The research of animal cognition tries to reveal cognitive mechanisms in order to study and understand cognition varieties and the evolution of cognitive processes (Animal Cognition 2011). Animal cognition is a complex field, studied by zoologists, biologists, neuroscientists, psychologists, anthropologists, and ecologists. It was developed out of comparative psychology and was influenced by behavioral ecology, evolutionary psychology and ethology (Animal Cognition 2008). In the past, animal cognition mostly concerned mammals, including primates, elephants, cetaceans, cats, dogs, and rodents. Technological advances gave the opportunity to study a variety of species, including insects, birds, lizard, snakes, invertebrates, and nonhuman primates (What is animal cognition?).

The studies of animal cognition include such areas of philosophy as consciousness, culture, imagery, memory, belief, mental content, perception, rationality, personal identity and others.