Showing posts with label Animals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Animals. Show all posts

Monday, March 18, 2013

Self-Control Observed in Cockatoos

Cognitive biologists from my alma mater published a paper on "Goffin cockatoos wait for qualitative and quantitative gains but prefer ‘better’ to ‘more’" in Biology Letters.
The abstract reads: "

Evidence for flexible impulse control over food consumption is rare in nonhuman animals. So far, only primates and corvids have been shown to be able to fully inhibit the consumption of a desirable food item in anticipation for a gain in quality or quantity longer than a minute. We tested Goffin cockatoos (Cacatua goffini) in an exchange task. Subjects were able to bridge delays of up to 80 s for a preferred food quality and up to 20 s for a higher quantity, providing the first evidence for temporal discounting in birds that do not cache food."


The science daily has a nice article on it: Doing Business With a Parrot: Self-Control Observed in Cockatoos
They write

"The ability to anticipate a delayed gain is considered cognitively challenging since it requires not only the capacity to control an direct impulse but also to assess the gain's beneficial value relative to the costs associated with having to wait as well as the reliability of the trader. Such abilities can be considered precursors of economic decision making and are rarely found outside humans. Only few, typically large-brained animals, have been shown to be able to inhibit the consumption of an immediate food reward in anticipation for a bigger one for more than one minute."


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Monkeys and Fairness

This seems the perfect way to introduce fairness to undergrads


The original video I put up has been deleted from Youtube.  It is part of a longer TED talk from Frans de Waal, but this is by far the best part. You can watch it below, the best part starts around 12:30


Monday, January 14, 2013

Fairness and Apes

There is a new paper on Chimpanzees and the ultimatum game by Darby Proctor, Rebecca A. Williamson, Frans B. M. de Waal, and Sarah F. Brosnan, "Chimpanzees play the ultimatum game." PNAS, January 14, 2013 DOI: 10.1073

the abstract reads:
"Is the sense of fairness uniquely human? Human reactions to reward division are often studied by means of the ultimatum game, in which both partners need to agree on a distribution for both to receive rewards. Humans typically offer generous portions of the reward to their partner, a tendency our close primate
relatives have thus far failed to show in experiments. Here we tested chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and human children on a modified ultimatum game. One individual chose between two tokens that, with their partner’s cooperation, could be exchanged for rewards. One token offered equal rewards to both players,
whereas the other token favored the chooser. Both apes and children responded like humans typically do. If their partner’s cooperation was required, they split the rewards equally. However, with passive partners—a situation akin to the so-called dictator game—they preferred the selfish option. Thus, humans and chimpanzees show similar preferences regarding reward division, suggesting a long evolutionary history to the human sense of fairness."

A summary can be found at Science news: "Chimpanzees Successfully Play the Ultimatum Game: Apes' Sense of Fairness Confirmed"




Friday, January 4, 2013

Bonobos and Altruism

Here's an article that appeared in PLOS one by Jingzhi Tan and Brian Hare: "Bonobos Share with Strangers"

The abstract reads:
"Humans are thought to possess a unique proclivity to share with others – including strangers. This puzzling phenomenon has led many to suggest that sharing with strangers originates from human-unique language, social norms, warfare and/or cooperative breeding. However, bonobos, our closest living relative, are highly tolerant and, in the wild, are capable of having affiliative interactions with strangers. In four experiments, we therefore examined whether bonobos will voluntarily donate food to strangers. We show that bonobos will forego their own food for the benefit of interacting with a stranger. Their prosociality is in part driven by unselfish motivation, because bonobos will even help strangers acquire out-of-reach food when no desirable social interaction is possible. However, this prosociality has its limitations because bonobos will not donate food in their possession when a social interaction is not possible. These results indicate that other-regarding preferences toward strangers are not uniquely human. Moreover, language, social norms, warfare and cooperative breeding are unnecessary for the evolution of xenophilic sharing. Instead, we propose that prosociality toward strangers initially evolves due to selection for social tolerance, allowing the expansion of individual social networks. Human social norms and language may subsequently extend this ape-like social preference to the most costly contexts."