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Using letters of the alphabet for explanatory purposes, choosing test pair BB would be correct if the sample pair were AA, whereas choosing test pair EF would be correct if the sample pair were CD.Stated logically, A: A as B: B (same = same) and C: D as E: F (different = different).
It found that crows given a similar problem dropped stones into a tube containing water, but not into a tube containing sand.Not only could the crows correctly perform this task, but they did so spontaneously, from the very first presentations, without ever being trained to do so.It seems that initial training to match identical items enabled the crows to grasp a broadly applicable concept of sameness that could apply to the novel two-item analogy task.Nevertheless, undeterred by such pessimistic pronouncements, informed by Darwin’s theory of evolution, and guided by the maxim that “actions speak more loudly than words,” researchers today are fashioning powerful tests that provide nonverbal ways for animals to disclose their intelligence to us.Although animals may not use words, their behavior may serve as a suitable substitute; its study may allow us to jettison the stale convention that thought without language is impossible.Crows also chose to drop solid rather than hollow objects into the water tube.
It thus seems that crows do indeed understand basic cause-effect relations.
Because sameness and differentness can be detected visually, perhaps that may provide an elegant way to study their apprehension by nonverbal animals.
Animals do readily learn to report sets of identical visual items as “same” and sets of non-identical items as “different.” To do so, we present visual stimuli on a touchscreen monitor.
Devising a task to study analogical thinking in animals is the next step.
Here, the gist of analogycan be captured by arranging a matching task in which the relevant logical arguments are presented in the form of visual stimuli.
We reward animals with food for contacting one button when sets contain identical items and we reward animals for contacting a second button when sets contain non-identical items.