The Thoughtful Animal

Archives for August, 2010

Dogs are pretty smart. They can have huge vocabularies, they can infer meaning in the growls of other dogs, and they can effortlessly figure out if other dogs want to play or fight with them. But their intelligence might be limited to the social domain; indeed, while they outperform chimpanzees in social tasks, chimpanzees outperform…

Here are my Research Blogging Editor’s Selections for this week: “Distorted perceptions and an altered state of mind: two reasons why psychedelics have always attracted not only fascination, but also controversy for decades.” Noah Gray at Nature Blogs has curated a mini-carnival of sorts centering around a new paper called “The neurobiology of psychedelic drugs:…

Extra, Extra

Welcome to the weekly linkfest, August 28 edition. Science Brian Switek writes about one of the fastest mammals on earth, the pronghorn, and the complex ecology it lives in. Of Pronghorns and Predators. It’s an interesting look into the predator-prey relationships between wolves, coyotes, and pronghorns. Another great post from Brian, in which he tells…

Figure 1: A mother hyena with her cubs. Early developmental experiences can have significant implications for the growth, behavior, survival, and reproductive success of an individual. In many species, one of the most important factors that affects an individual’s early development is the maternal environment. However, mothers not only provide an environment for their offspring,…

Silver Spoon Hyenas?

A fascinating new paper just came out in Nature Communications and I intend to blog it in the usual manner, but I thought I’d try something new first. Check it out: The Research Question …According to life history theory, mothers should invest in their offspring if this enhances offspring survival and fitness, and if the…

Here are my Research Blogging Editor’s Selections for this week: Livia Blackburne asks what something called “visual noise exclusion” has to do with dyslexia. She classifies the post as “intermediate-advanced,” but it’s a good concise explanation of this complicated research finding. People have been studying learning in aplysia, the sea hare, for decades. Bjorn Brembs…

Predator-prey interactions are often viewed as evolutionary arms races; while predators improve their hunting behaviors and their ability to sneak up on their prey, the prey improve upon their abilities to detect and escape from their predators. The problem, of course, is that there is a trade-off between maintaining vigilance – the attention necessary to…

Extra, Extra

Here’s your weekly round-up of fun and fascinating: To start with, I did a 6-part series on numerical cognition and the development of math skills, here and at Child’s Play: 1. The Developmental Origins of Numerical Cognition 2. What is Dyscalculia? How Does It Develop? 3. Developmental Dyscalculia Explained: Strategy, Memory, Attention 4. Numbers on…

The Meta-Aggregator

Two important notes for today – the full link round-up, as per usual, will come over the weekend. First, the meta-aggregator to end all aggregators. Go check out scienceblogging.org – a fantastic tool built by Anton Zuiker, Blogfather Bora, and Dave Munger. It’s not perfect, but the whole thing was put together in just the…

Earlier this week I wrote about the developmental and evolutionary origins of large number representation. A series of studies in human infants, monkeys, rats, and fish demonstrated that animals and humans spontaneously represent large (>4), abstract, approximate numerosities. Animals, human infants, and human adults, show the same ratio signatures (based on Weber’s Law). Adult tamarins…