Lecture course on Animal Learning and Cognition
Dr Bob Brown, Professor Stephen Lea, Ms Britta Osthaus
quick jumps to topics on the web:
(Other Species' Minds) | Discrimination
and concepts | Memory | Communication
and Metacognition | Language
The formal description of this course of 12 lectures can be found in its
entry in your School
handbook. This web page gives some additional information.
It is provisional at this stage: the course is new in the 1998/99 session,
so some details will have to be sorted out as we go along. In particular,
all the dates should be regarded as tentative.
The aim of this course is to examine apparently intelligent behaviour in
non-human animals and to consider it is necessary to invoke 'cognitive
processes' for their explanation, and if so what the nature of those processes
might be. It is assumed that the study of "animal minds" is of interest
(a) in its own right and (b) because it may clarify our thinking about
mind in general and the human mind in particular.
Before beginning this course, you should have read:
Gould, S. J., & Gould, C. (1996). The animal mind. San Francisco:
Scientific American Books.
The best texts for the course (though none of them covers the whole course)
are the following. You will need to buy one of these, or to be one
of a group that has bought one:
Vauclair, J. (1996). Animal cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Pearce, J.M. (1997). Animal Learning and Cognition, 2nd edition.
Hove: Psychology Press (Erlbaum UK). The first edition, entitled ‘An
Introduction to Animal Cognition’, is a reasonable alternative, but
note that the chapter numbers will differ from those given here..
Roberts, W. (1998). Principles of animal cognition. Boston,
Other useful texts include:
The world wide web is a valuable source of materials. We have provided
links to some useful pages in the web lecture summaries described below;
you can probably find others yourselves. Please let us know of any
good ones. Among those cited are:
Byrne, R. (1995). The thinking ape. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mackintosh, N.J. (1974). The Psychology of Animal Learning. Academic
Domjan, M. & Burkhardt, B. (1986). The Principles of Learning and
Tomasello, M., & Call, J. (1997). Primate cognition.
Oxford University Press: New York.
Corballis, M. C., & Lea, S. E. G. (Eds.) (1999). The descent
of mind. Oxford University Press.
Shettleworth, S. J. (1998). Cognition,
evolution and behavior. Oxford University Press
McFarland, D. (1999). Animal behaviour, 3rd edition.
The study of animal learning and cognition has a long history (it was arguably
the central area in experimental psychology in the 1930-50 period, for
example) but has recently seen a substantial renaissance, with a number
of new approaches as well as the rediscovery of old one. This course will
attempt to give a balanced account of both traditional and modern treatments.
The course has been completely restructured for the 1998/99 session, so
the following details may need to be modified; for the same reason, the
amount of reading suggested for different topics is a little uneven. Lectures
marked RB will be given by Bob Brown, those marked SEGL by Stephen Lea,
and those marked BEO by Britta Osthaus. Dates for lectures
refer to the 1998/99 session.
As an experiment, we are making extended lecture notes available on
the web. These will not, in most cases, be complete lectures, but
they will correspond to the visual aids used in the lectures themselves.
As these are prepared, links to them will be made from this page.
Printouts of these notes will not be issued, but students (and visitors)
are welcome to print them out, or download them for private study, from
species' minds (SEGL, 1 lecture, 1st February). Approaches to the
study of animal cognition: long routes and short routes to the animal mind.
Beginnings: Romanes, Lloyd Morgan, and Watson. Thorndike, Pavlov and Köhler.
Methodological behaviourists: Hull and Tolman. The rise of radical behaviourism.
Application of human cognitive psychology to animal learning. Modern conditioning
theory. The impact of primatology. Piagetian stages. Evolutionary approaches
to cognition. The hominid mind.
(2) Associative learning (RB, 3 lectures, 8th, 15th &
22nd February): Pavlovian conditioning; conditioned reflexes or learned
anticipation?; the role of contingency and correlation; blocking and overshadowing;
the Rescorla-Wagner model and its predictive power.
Vauclair, Chapter 1.
Roberts, Chapter 1.
Shettleworth, Chapter 1 (Cognition, evolution and the study of behaviour).
Boakes, R. A. (1984). From Darwin to behaviourism. Cambridge: Cambridge
Lea, S. E. G. (1998). The background to hominid intelligence. In Corballis
Lea, S. E. G. and Kiley-Worthington, M. (1996). Can animals think?. In
V. G. Bruce (Eds.), Unsolved mysteries of the mind,, pp. 211-224. Erlbaum
(UK), Taylor and Francis: Hove.
McFarland, Chapter 1
(3) Discrimination and concepts
(SEGL, 2 lectures, 1st & 8th March): Continuity and non-continuity
theories of simple discrimination. Concept discrimination and pattern recognition.
Representations and connectionist theories.
Roberts, Chapter 5
Byrne, Chapter 4.
Pearce (especially Chapters 2 & 3).
Dickinson, A. (1980). Contemporary animal learning theory, Cambridge: Cambridge
McFarland, Chapters 17 & 19
(4) Aversive control of behaviour (RB, 3 lectures, 15th March,
26th April, 3rd May): Escape, punishment and avoidance; the effectiveness
of punishment; theories of avoidance behaviour.
Vauclair, chapters 2 & 8.
Roberts, chapters 2 & 11.
Pearce, Chapter 5
Shettleworth, chapter 5
Lea, S. E. G. (1984). In what sense do pigeons learn concepts? In H. L.
Roitblat et al, Animal Cognition. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Watanabe, S., Lea, S. E. G., & Dittrich, W. H. (1993). What can we
learn from experiments on pigeon concept discrimination?. In H. P. Zeigler
& H.-J. Bischof (Eds.), Vision, brain, and behavior in birds,
pp. 351-376. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA
Tomasello & Call, Chapter 4 (Features and categories).
(5) Memory (SEGL, 1 lecture, 10th May): Short-term
memory in pigeons and primates. Spatial memory, especially in hoarding
animals. Other aspects of long-term memory.
Mackintosh, Chapter 6
Mowrer, O.H. (1959). Learning Theory and Behaviour. John Wiley
Bolles, R.C. The avoidance learning problem. In G.H. Bower (Ed.)
(1972), The Psychology of Learning and Motivation (Volume 6). Academic
Vauclair, chapter 4
Roberts, chapters 4, 6, 7 & 9.
Shettleworth, chapters 6 & 7
Kamil, A. C. and Balda, R. P. (1985). Cache recovery and spatial memory
in Clark's nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana). Journal of Experimental
Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, 11, 95-111.
Macdonald, I. M. V. (1997). Field experiments on duration and precision
of grey and red squirrel spatial memory. Animal Behaviour, 54, 879-891.
Vaughan, W. and Greene, S. L. (1984). Pigeon visual memory capacity.
of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behaviour Processes, 10, 256-271.
Tomasello & Call, Chapter 2 (Space and objects)
(6) Communication and metacognition
(1 lecture, SEGL, 17th May). The ethology and sociobiology of animal communication.
Referential communication by vervets. Is dishonest signalling possible?
Tactical deception. Theory of mind in primates. Self-concepts.
(7) Language (1 lecture, BEO,
24th May). As an experiment, this topic will be taught by an experimental
self-instructional method. Receptive vocabularies of dogs and horse.
The speech-production experiments of the Kelloggs and the Hayes. The Washoe,
Sarah and Lana projects. Kanzi. Non-primate models: woodpeckers, parrots
and dolphins. Theories of the evolution of human language.
Dawkins, R., & Krebs, J. R. (1978). Animal signals: Information or
manipulation? in Krebs, J. R., & Davies, N. B. (Eds.), Behavioural
Ecology, 1st edition. Oxford: Blackwell.
Roberts, chapter 12
McFarland, chapter 21 & 28
Tomasello & Call, Chapter 10 (Theory of mind).
Shettleworth, chapters 11 (Cognitive ethology and the theory of mind) and
12 (Communication and language)
Grafen, A. (1991). Modelling in behavioural ecology. In Krebs, J. R., &
Davies, N. B. (Eds.), Behavioural Ecology, 3rd edition. Oxford:
Cheney, D., & Seyfarth, R. (1990). How monkeys see the world. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.
Byrne, chapters 8-10.
Povinelli et al (1992). Comprehension of role reversal in chimpanzees:
evidence of empathy? Animal Behaviour, 43, 633-640.
Vauclair, chapter 6
Pearce, chapter 10
Byrne, chapter 11.
Herman, L. M, Richards, D. G. and Wolz, J. P. (1984). Comprehension of
sentences by bottlenosed dolphins. Cognition, 1984, 16-129.
Pepperberg, I. M. (1983). Cognition in the African Grey parrot: Preliminary
evidence for auditory/vocal comprehension of the class concept. Animal
Learning and Behavior, 11, 179-185.
University of Exeter
School of Psychology
Washington Singer Laboratories
Exeter EX4 4QG
Tel +44 1392 264626
Fax +44 1392 264623
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revised 27th September 1999 by SEGL