Core Knowledge

The Thoughtful Animal

Category archives for Core Knowledge

Quandaries such as those involving stealing a drug to save a spouse’s life or whether or not to have an abortion have historically dominated the study of the development of moral thinking. The predominant research programs in psychology today use dilemmas in which one choice is deontologically correct (it is wrong to rotate a lever…

Origins of Mind 101

If I had to describe the mission, the point, the raison d’etre of the entire field of psychology in just one sentence, I would say: Psychology aims to determine the relative extents to which biology and experience determine cognition and behavior.” And, as you might expect, there are widely differing schools of thought. Nativists emphasize…

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…

This post considering the evolutionary origins of numerical cognition, specifically in terms of the approximation of large numbers, is meant as a companion to this week’s series on the developmental origins of numerical cognition and developmental dyscalculia, at Child’s Play. What are the origins of number representation in the mind? Are there any innate building…

In general, the ability to attribute attention to others seems important: it allows an animal to notice the presence of other individuals (whether conspecifics, prey, or predators) as well as important locations or events by following the body orientation or eyegaze of others. We’ve spent a lot of time here at The Thoughtful Animal thinking…

Self-Recognition in Cats?

Do cats have self recognition? This video suggests they might not, at least in terms of passing the mirror recognition task. But, well, this isn’t really the mirror recognition task. And the mirror recognition task may not be the best way to test self recognition in cats. But in any case, it’s a pretty hilarious…

Evolutionary Psychology suffers from a PR problem, which can be mostly blamed on ignorant (even if well-intentioned) members of the population who don’t know what they’re talking about. Evolutionary psychology attempts to describe the evolution of the mind and of behavior and, well, everyone has a mind, and everyone can observe behavior. This makes people…

Yesterday afternoon, I watched the livestream of the “All Creatures Great and Smart” session of the World Science Festival in New York City. The session was absolutely fantastic, and featured Brian Hare, Vanessa Woods, Jeremy Niven, Patrick Hof and Klaus Zuberb├╝hler. The conversation challenged long-held assumptions about the differences between “animal” and “human”, and included…

It should not come as a surprise to the regular reader of this blog that a lot can be learned about animal cognition by simply observing animal behavior. But can observing animal behavior lead the observer to make inferences about brain anatomy? Can observing animal behavior tell us something about the evolution of the brain?…

Zen recently wrote mentioned this study on his blog, so I thought it was time to dredge it out of the archives. Also, I’ve just returned from APS (see my daily recaps here here and here), and I am TIRED. Domestic animals and their wild counterparts can be different in big ways; there can be…