About this Research Topic
Among their many cultural accomplishments, the human species have brought a wide range of animals under behavioral control and management through the process of domestication. Along with changes in physical characteristics and temperament, domestication may also have induced cognitive changes in domesticated species. For example, there is little question that dogs have evolved over the course of domestication to have an often-keen sensitivity to subtle changes in behavior or events that signal meaningful changes or situations to their owners, although dogs in general have not distinguished themselves in intellectual prowess significantly beyond those species with whom they share ecological, phylogenetic, and social interactions.
The scientific studies of the cognitive abilities of some domestic species, notably dogs, has greatly expanded over the past decade, due in part to the high cost of laboratory work with species that have previously been subject to experimental research. These include pigeons, rats, and nonhuman primates, and all are now extremely expensive to maintain in captivity, because of housing and maintenance costs. Dogs, as companion animals, however, are readily available from volunteer owners who are often eager to have the perceived high intelligence of their own dog demonstrated under the more rigorous testing conditions of an experimental laboratory. Similarly, investigators of animal cognition are also turning to other captive domesticated species, to explore facts of cognitive mechanisms that may be shared across species or are perhaps unique in the evolutionary and domestication pathway for that specific animal species. These include horses, goats, sheep, cats, pigs, and birds, among others. Thus, the costs of obtaining and housing test subjects need not be an obstacle to exploring many of the intriguing questions that the field of comparative cognition (the study of cognition across a wide range of species) remain keen to explore.
Consequently, the potential for studies of cognition in domestic animals is ripe for the cross-fertilization that continues to emerge among and between the fields of comparative psychology, ethology, developmental psychology, animal science, veterinary medicine, zoo biology, cognition, and behavioral neuroscience. Therefore, the aim of this Research Topic is to bring the latest findings cognitive processing by domesticated animals from a variety of species, approaches, and laboratories from international investigators.
Keywords: Animal cognition, behavior, comparative cognition, domestic animals, animal intelligence
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