Cognition and intelligence

In 1871 Charles Darwin's inclusion of mind and behavior in his theory of evolution gave scientific legitimacy to the investigation of animal thinking. Since that time, animal intelligence and cognition have been of interest to psychologists, anthropologists, ethologists, biologists, and cognitive scientists. The first published treatments of animal cognition were anecdotal observations that were richly interpreted to show the complexity of animal reasoning. Those anecdotal observations were criticized for their lack of objectivity, leading to the introduction of more objective techniques such as experimental studies and more careful interpretation of results. As the field of animal cognition has progressed, emphasis on scientific rigor and objectivity has characterized research. This essay provides an overview of animal cognition as well as suggesting directions that research in the early 2000s is taking. Most of the current research and theory in animal cognition focuses on the cognitive abilities of nonhuman primates. That emphasis is reflected here. The topics chosen for this review include those that are currently dynamic and are likely to show the most growth over the next several years. This overview provides a point of entry for those interested in exploring cognitive abilities in animals.

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