Cognition, Evolution, and Behavior

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9780195110470: Cognition, Evolution, and Behavior

How do animals perceive the world, learn, remember, search for food or mates, and find their way around? Do any non-human animals count, imitate one another, use a language, or think as we do? What use is cognition in nature and how might it have evolved? Historically, research on such questions has been fragmented between psychology, where the emphasis has been on theoretical models and lab experiments, and biology, where studies focus on evolution and the adaptive use of perception, learning, and decision-making in the field.
Cognition, Evolution and the Study of Behavior integrates research from psychology, behavioral ecology, and ethology in a wide-ranging synthesis of theory and research about animal cognition in the broadest sense, from species-specific adaptations in fish to cognitive mapping in rats and honeybees to theories of mind for chimpanzees. As a major contribution to the emerging discipline of comparative cognition, the book is an invaluable resource for all students and researchers in psychology, zoology, behavioral neuroscience. It will also interest general readers curious about the details of how and why animals--including humans--process, retain, and use information as they do.

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About the Author:

Sara J. Shettleworth, Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto.


"This book is a very comprehensive review of animal cognition. It differs from other texts on this topic in a number of ways, as outlined by Shettleworth in her preface and in the opening chapter. Essentially, Shettleworth wants to advocate an 'adaptationist or ecological approach to cognition'. In doing so, she brings together a wealth of data on animal cognition, studied from quite different theoretical viewpoints, such as cognitive ethology, animal learning theory, neuroscience, behavioural ecology and cognitive psychology. . . . Each chapter ends with a clear and useful summary, and helpful suggestions for further reading. The book's numerous illustrations, which are mostly tables or figures redrawn by Margaret Nelson, greatly add to its appeal. . . . [T]his is a marvellously rich, well-written and stimulating book. . . . I greatly enjoyed reading [and] recommend it highly to anyone interested in animal cognition, evolution and behaviour."--Animal Behaviour

"Shettleworth's new book is one of the most compelling studies showing how a synergism between biology and psychology can make a significant contribution to our general understanding of how minds work and how they might have evolved. It provides an extremely readable, informative and, above all, integrative approach to the study of animal cognition. This book provides a seminal contribution to the interdisciplinary science of animal cognition, and I hope it will have a major impact on the way we think about cognitive properties and the evolution of animal minds. I regard it as an investment for the future!" -- Nicola Clayton, UC Davis

"Sara Shettleworth has probably written the most comprehensive study of the animal mind ever and therefore a fundamental textbook on 'comparative cognition'. She first gets consciousness out of the way: whether an animal is conscious or not is impossible to determine, since consciousness is a private, subjective phenomenon. We can study cognition, and certainly cognition lends credibility to the idea that at least some animals must be at least to some degree conscious, but experiments can only prove facts about cognition. She reviews the field of cognitive ethology from the beginning and then analyzes the main cognitive tasks from an information-processing perspective By the end of her review of cognitive faculties, it become apparent that, at least among vertebrates, there are no significant differences in learning, except for language. All vertebrates are capable of 'associative' learning What no other vertebrate seems to be capable of is 'syntax'." -- Piero Scaruffi,

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