Do animals have a mind?
Do animals think? Do they have a mind? These questions have interested people since time immemorial. They considered some animals stupid, others smart. Take beavers, for example. Watching how they block the streams, rivers, we can conclude that they can not be denied in the mind: the work that they do, building their dams is so complicated. However, in the last century, the brother of the famous natural scientist Georg Cuvier Friedrich raised beavers without parents and saw that these animals do not learn the cunning art of the builder. Moreover, their behavior during the construction of dams was stereotyped, unchanged. The beavers' striking expediency and rationality turned out to be nothing more than a blind instinct.
Here is another example. Small birds live on the Galapagos Islands - woodpeckers. They feed on insects. Having found prey, reels often cannot get it, it is in deep crevices in the wood, and their beak is short. The birds found a way out. To extract insects, they use small twigs or cactus needles. Having flown to the tree with its “instrument” and saw that it is short or bent too much, the reel replaces it with another. If the branch or cactus spine is suitable, the bird, in search of food, can fly from it from tree to tree and probe the holes of interest to it. Reels not only retain the most suitable "tools", they are able to make them. Finding a twig consisting of two branches that form a fork, finches break one of them, and the other - too long - shorten. It is unlikely that the behavior of these birds would be so if they did not possess the rudiments of the mind.
Forms of higher nervous activity, which can be assessed as reasonable, of course, are very diverse. However, observing the behavior of animals in their natural habitats, I came to the conclusion that the most characteristic property of the elementary rational activity of animals is the ability to capture the simplest laws of nature and the ability to use these laws in new, unexpected situations. Having modeled some similar situations in the laboratory, we began to offer animals to solve various logical problems.
Imagine this picture: near a full feeding trough - a chicken. A few minutes pass, and the feeder begins to slowly move left along the rail. The bird follows her, continuing to peck. And then the unexpected happens - the feed disappears from the field of view of the chicken: the feeder enters the corridor closed on all sides. Now it all depends on the mental abilities of the bird. To gain access to food again, she must figure out in which direction the feed is moving. If the chicken determines this correctly, it will go further to the left and, when the feeder leaves the corridor, it will be near it. At first glance, it might seem that the chicken, and other animals, to cope with this task is simple. In fact, this is far from the case. To make sure, we analyze the conditions of the problem. What does the bird know? First: there is a feeding trough. When she begins to move in one direction, the chicken receives information about the direction and speed of its movement. What is unknown? How to get food that disappeared in the corridor? This is the question the bird needs to answer. To do this, it should be able to extrapolate the direction and trajectory of the movement of the now invisible feeder. However, extrapolation is impossible without knowledge of the elementary laws of nature. Which ones? We formulated the first of them as follows: every object that animals perceive with their organs and senses exists even if it suddenly disappears from their field of vision. People also use this law. You can do this experience. Take a toy from your little brother or sister and quietly hide it behind your back. You will see that the baby begins to demand the toy back. Even if small, but already experience tells the child that, although he does not see the toy, it has not disappeared without a trace, it exists.
The essence of the second simplest law is as follows: an opaque body is impenetrable. In the tasks that animals solved, the bait sometimes hid not in the corridor, but moved behind the screen. And the participants in our experiments were to follow the feeding trough along the screen. However, some of them did not bother to walk, but tried to get to it through the screen. And one more thing: it is unlikely that any of the participants in our experiments could eventually get to the desired feeder if they did not understand one very important thing: the bait, which is removed in a certain direction, once in shelter, continues to move in the same direction there. I will not talk about all the laws that needed to be used to successfully answer the questions posed. I will only say that we were able to establish: the more laws of nature that animals catch, the more reasonable they behave. The study of their behavior in the process of solving logical problems showed that there are huge differences in the level of rational activity. The pigeons, as soon as the feeder was out of their sight, were no longer interested in it and did not even attempt to follow it. Hens and rabbits, when they stopped seeing the bait, began to look for it in the place where it disappeared. So, they only understood that the feed could not disappear without a trace. Magpies acted quite differently. Finding that the feeding trough moved into the corridor, they began to run along it, and then stood, waiting for its appearance. A variety of animals participated in our experiments. When we compared the results, it turned out that among the dogs, wolves and other animals there were those who answered the questions posed perfectly, well or mediocre. However, in general, among animals, monkeys, dolphins and brown bears solved the problems best. Second place went to wolves, red foxes, dogs and Korsaks. Of the birds, the most intelligent are ravens. By the level of development of elementary rational activity, they are not inferior to predatory mammals from the canine family. The turtles and green lizards turned out to be quite quick-witted. True, these reptiles solve extrapolation tasks worse than ravens, ravens and magpies, but better than chickens, falcons and kites. The rats were answered differently. Pasyukas are smarter than laboratory rats. Silver-black foxes in terms of development of rational activity are also inferior to their wild counterparts - red foxes. And this is natural. Domesticated animals live on everything ready. They do not need to search for food, worry about their safety. In the environment that people created and creates them, situations rarely arise when you need to think about making the only right decision in urgent situations. And, living under the tutelage of man, they stupid. After all, the effect of natural selection, in which the least adapted animals die, did not affect them.
Having found out which of the animals is the most “intelligent”, we naturally could not help but draw a parallel: how much the level of development of their rational activity differs from ours?
My two year old son participated in the first experiments. The conditions of the tasks that he had to solve did not differ significantly from those that we proposed to the animals. The boy was very fond of playing with an electric flashlight. Therefore, behind the screen, in which there was a hole, put two boxes. They put a flashlight in one of them. Then both boxes at the same time began to push in opposite directions. My son, who was standing near the hole and saw this, immediately ran in the direction in which the box with the flashlight disappeared. However, the next time the experiment was repeated, the son said: “The flashlight ran away,” he went in the direction that the first time, although an empty box was moving there. After these trial experiments, the ability to extrapolate was studied in our laboratory in many children. It turned out that the result most directly depends on the age of the child. Children under two years old cannot extrapolate the direction of movement of the toy. When they were asked: "Where is the toy?" - they answered: "No, I left." And they remained in place, not trying to find her. After a year, the number of correct answers increases, but at this age the guys solve problems worse than red foxes, wolves and dogs. And only children who are seven and a half years old, already completely accurately determine where the toy is moving. Of course, evaluating the human mind according to only one criterion - the ability to extrapolate, it is impossible to get an idea of all its diverse rational activities. However, the experiments carried out nevertheless made it possible to identify some stages in the formation of this complex brain function.
The brain has undergone a long evolution. Hundreds of millions of years passed before the mind of man appeared. Our studies showed that neither the fish nor amphibians can solve even the most simple tasks, their rational activity is not developed at all. The behavior of lizards and turtles compares favorably with the behavior of carps, minnow, crucian carp, frogs and toads. But why exactly reptiles became the first animals in which the rudiments of the mind appeared in evolution? What caused the progressive development of their brain? The main reason is the change in environmental conditions. In the distant and severe Permian period, the most ancient reptiles came out of the water and began to inhabit land. Life on earth all the time confronted them with the need to solve new problems. Instincts with their programmed actions, individual experience, the acquisition of which took time, all this could not help the reptiles to quickly make the right decision.The situations they encountered were too diverse, arose suddenly, and never met before. In order to react correctly, and life sometimes depended on it, it was necessary to have at least the rudiments of the mind. That is why one of the ways that allowed reptiles to adapt to life on land was the development of the brain, which led to the emergence and progressive evolution of rational activity.
Animals, in which an elementary mind appeared in the process of evolution, were in a more advantageous position than their fellow tribesmen with undeveloped intelligence. After all, they quickly developed new forms of behavior, which means that they had more chances to survive. As the development of rational activity, other very important changes took place in the life of animals. Communities consisting of animals with a primitive brain and the same level of relations were replaced by communities whose members knew each other better and were able to understand the nuances of the behavior of each of their fellow tribesmen.
In one of the straits of California, where a floating barrier of vertically arranged aluminum tubes was installed, experiments were conducted. A group of Gill dolphins, found themselves in the strait, having discovered the barrier by echolocation, stopped not far. One of the dolphins headed for the fence and swam along it. When he returned, the animals began to roll over. Then another dolphin swam to the barrier. Only after that the whole group, lining up in a row, passed the barrier. Here's how dolphins can act in an organized way.
Once in a difficult situation, the monkey monkeys behave similarly. The leader is the first to leave the herd for reconnaissance. After inspecting the area, he returns, and the monkeys hit the road on the safest route.
And one more distinctive feature characteristic of animal communities with a sufficiently developed intellect. Mutual assistance and cooperation play a huge role in their relations. Together they defend their territory, defend themselves from predators, and hunt together. When cubs are born, "aunts", "uncles", and "neighbors" help to feed and educate their parents. As a result, animals and birds, possessing elementary rational activity, have additional advantages in the struggle for existence.
Speaking about the rational behavior of animals, one probably should not ignore the question: Is it difficult for them to think? During the research, representatives of all groups who visited our laboratory began to behave rather strangely at a certain period: they stubbornly walked in the direction opposite to the movement of the bait. Pasyuki and birds from the raven family acted differently: they refused to approach the hole in the screen, the experimental setup aroused fear in them. The rabbits fell into an alarming state. It was not hard to guess: they pounded their hind legs on the floor. There were cases when a rabbit, grabbing a carrot (bait), ran away from the screen with it. Swamp turtles became too mobile.
So unusual animals began to behave when several times in a row they correctly solved problems. Therefore, we hypothesized that this was due to mental overstrain. Indeed, electroencephalograms confirmed our findings. So it’s hard for animals to think. In everyday life, they do not often have to solve logical problems, but even when this happens, they do it on the basis of information that they receive from the environment. The system perceiving such information was called by Ivan Petrovich Pavlov the first signal system of reality. The process of thinking of a person is carried out mainly under the influence of information that he receives through speech - the second signaling system. And each of us can use all the knowledge accumulated by mankind. Hence the colossal possibilities of human thinking. Another feature - a person was able to capture not only the laws of nature, but also formulate theoretical laws that formed the basis for understanding the world around and the development of science. All this, of course, is inaccessible to animals, even with the most highly developed rational activity.
A source: Recorded by L. Stishkovskaya, Young Naturalist magazine 1980 - 11
Animal intelligence features
The intelligence of the animal is different from the intelligence of humans and cannot be measured by conventional tests to determine the level of IQ. In order not to confuse the instinctive behavior of animals with the rational, it should be understood that instinct is a natural ability, and intelligence is an ability acquired in the course of worldly experience.
For the manifestation of intellectual abilities, the animal needs obstacles to achieve a specific goal. But, if, for example, a dog receives food from his bowl daily throughout his life, then intellectual abilities in this case will not show up. In an animal, intellectual actions can arise only in order to invent a new mode of action to achieve a goal. Moreover, this method for each individual animal will be individual. In the animal kingdom there are no universal rules.
Animals, although they have intellectual abilities, they do not play a major role in their life. They trust instincts more, and use intelligence from case to case, moreover, in their life experience it is not fixed and is not inherited.
Examples of intelligent animal behavior
The dog is the very first animal that humans have tamed. She is considered the smartest among all pets. Once, a famous surgeon who lived in the last century discovered a dog with a damaged limb under his door. He healed the animal and thought that the dog would remain with him in gratitude. But the animal had a different owner, and the first attachment was stronger, and the dog left.But what was the surgeon’s surprise when, after some time, on the threshold of his house, he found the same dog that brought another dog with a broken paw in the hope that the doctor would help her too.
And by what, no matter how intellect is manifested, one can explain the behavior of a pack of dogs that cross the road along a pedestrian crossing in a slender line, while people who are endowed with intelligence from birth cross it in the wrong place.
Not only dogs, but also other animals demonstrate their intelligence. Even ants are able to solve very complex problems in the case when you need to remember and transmit information about a rich source of food to their relatives. But the manifestation of their mental abilities is limited to this. In other circumstances, intelligence is not activated.
It has been observed that swallows alert their chicks at the time of hatching when a human is nearby. The chick stops beating its shell with its beak until it understands from the parents' voice that the danger has passed. This example is evidence that animal intelligence is manifested as a result of life experience. The swallows did not take over the fear of the person from their parents, they learned to be afraid of him in the process of life.
In the same way, rooks avoid a man with a gun, because smell the powder. But they could not adopt it from their ancestors, because gunpowder was invented later than the rooks appeared. Those. their fear is also the result of life experience.
Each owner of a cat, dog, parrot or rat has a confirmation that his pet has intelligence. It is clear that animals are not smarter than people, but they possess other qualities that are valuable to humans.
Some scientists are cautious about the fact that reason in the animal kingdom is peculiar not only to individual owners of large skulls, but also to complex self-regulating collective systems. That is, a bug in itself is a brainless creature, but with a group of comrades united by a common goal, it’s already a super brain!
The term “collective mind” arose in the 1980s in sociology and was initially applied to people. This refers to the ability of the group to find a more effective solution to the problem than the individual would have done. In both human and animal societies, the size of the group and the strength of social ties within it are of decisive importance for the collective mind.
In animals, manifestations of collective intelligence, as a rule, are expressed in the repetition by all members of the group of the same action - as, for example, fish do this, evading a predator. Scientists have always been fascinated by the amazing synchronism and identity of the reactions of animals in a large group, but what is the “technical stuffing” of this phenomenon and what additional factors influence it, remains to be seen.
The Orlov trotter, who lived in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century, nicknamed Smart Hans, became famous for being able to add, subtract, multiply and divide, perform calculations with fractions, indicate the exact time, specific dates in the calendar, and even read. He just couldn’t speak - Hans answered questions by hitting the ground with his hoof.
For a long time, the horse’s phenomenal abilities were considered almost a miracle, until one day it became clear that Hans' only merit was his fantastic training. The horse caught the slightest reaction of the one who asked her the next tricky question, and thus "calculated" the correct answer. Realizing how much the viewer was surprised that the animal correctly folded 12 and 12, Hans realized that there was no need to knock further. Although it is also necessary to be able to!
In honor of the trotter, the psychological phenomenon “Smart Hans effect”, associated with the involuntary influence of the owner on the behavior of the animal, got its name.
Rick Jaffa, screenwriter for Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Planet of the Apes: Revolution, said he was inspired by an article about a baby monkey raised by humans to create the image of the main character, Caesar's chimpanzee. According to the plot, Caesar, who quickly became wiser under the influence of an experimental preparation, lives with people and masters the sign language. For the time being, he even considers himself a man. When Caesar is excommunicated and sent to an animal shelter, he suffers a terrible blow, which ultimately pushes him to revolutionize people.
Caesar from Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Most likely, Jaffa read about a chimpanzee named Nim Chimpski, whose fate is surprisingly similar to Caesar's. In the 1970s, this monkey became a member of an ambitious experiment in the education of primates in the human family. Unfortunately, despite the successes, the experiment was curtailed, and Nim himself was taken to the nursery. "Returning to the roots" was a real shock for the poor: a one and a half year old chimpanzee, who had been growing among people since infancy, was incredibly longing for them. Unlike Caesar, Nim could not find a common language with other monkeys. The documentary "Project Nimes", filmed in 2011, is dedicated to this occasion.
... and Nim, his prototype