Monday, January 23, 2012

Canine Intelligence

Fenichel's Current Topics in Psychology | APA 117th Annual Convention:

Image via

OK, so where do we begin in looking at how dogs think? This was not to be a "dog & pony show" where animals are merely a source of entertainment, but a loving and empirical look at how dogs actually think, employing a scientific framework not unlike the work of Piaget and others who look at early acquisition of language, "object constancy", and goal-directed behavior. The methodology may vary, but some of the well-known dimensions of human learning, such as learning of words and sequences and quantity, are quite amenable to rigorous study. Some of the results are quite interesting, and Dr. Coren presents an engaging blend of historical and sociological canine functioning, as well as some empirical study of cognitive functioning. Along the way he joked about the way people dearly love their breeds and tend to forget the origins of how that breeding came about. Clearly he loves them all, whether smart or not so smart, and his humor underscored how we have many preconceptions of what "smart" really means - to dogs. Here are some scientific studies of dogs, along with some video clips (in his presentation) and clever, engaging graphics to illustrate some of the talents and foibles of (wo)man's best friend.
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