Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Brainier than humans?

From Crow Planet, by Linda Lynn Haupt, a description of crows' "cognitive toolbox":

They [animal behaviorists Nathan Emery and Nicola Clayton of Cambridge University] described four cognitive pahtways employed by both [crows and apes, including humans] groups that sugest complex mentation:
- causal reasoning (as in development and use of tools);
- flexibility (one of the cornerstones of intelligent behavior, which refers to the ability to generate rules from past experiences that offer a varied repertoire of potential responses to novel stimuli, rather than simple rote learning, which seems to be the cognitive limit in some other avian groups, such as pigeons);
- imagination (where situations and scenarios not presently available can still be formed in the minds' eye);
- prospection (the ability to imagine future events). p. 69.

It's remarkable that only the first item on this list is taught more or less systematically in our schools. I wonder if there's a way to measure crow's IQ and compare it to that of the humans, pound for pound of brain mass.

:: education, niche construction, creativity, system, quote, book, brain

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