Assessing the Psychological Priorities for Optimising Captive Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) Welfare

The welfare status of elephants under human care has been a contentious issue for two decades or more in numerous western countries. Much effort has gone into assessing the welfare of captive elephants at individual and population levels with little consensus having been achieved in relation to both the welfare requirements of captive elephants, or […]

Mechanisms underlying cognitive bias in nonhuman primates

Recent research in nonhuman animals highlights the exciting possibility that performance on cognitive bias tasks might indirectly measure an individual’s subjective, affective state. Subjects first learn to perform a conditional discrimination task with two differentially reinforced responses, and then intermediate, unreinforced stimuli are introduced. Differences in affective state have been related to changes in the […]

A Framework to Assess the Impact of New Animal Management Technologies on Welfare: A Case Study of Virtual Fencing

To be ethically acceptable, new husbandry technologies and livestock management systems must maintain or improve animal welfare. To achieve this goal, the design and implementation of new technologies need to harness and complement the learning abilities of animals. Here, from literature on the cognitive activation theory of stress (CATS) we develop a framework to assess […]

Abnormal behavior and the self-regulation of motivational state

Although most abnormal behaviors, including all stereotypies, indicate poor welfare, some that occur in rare situations are functional and do not indicate a negative situation. There is a wide range of abnormal behaviors that occur in conditions where the animal’s needs are not met, and these can be valuable welfare indicators, but these should never […]

Elephant cognition

No abstract: Topics include “Why study elephant cognition?”, “What do we know about elephant society?”, “Clues to an advanced intelligence?”, and “How has elephant cognition been studied?”

Simultaneous visual discrimination in Asian elephants

Two experiments explored the behavior of 20 Asian elephants (Elephas aximus) in simultaneous visual discrimination tasks. In Experiment 1, 7 Burmese logging elephants acquired a white+/black- discrimination, reaching criterion in a mean of 2.6 sessions and 117 discrete trials, whereas 4 elephants acquired a black+/white- discrimination in 5.3 sessions and 293 trials. One elephant failed […]

Self-recognition in the Asian elephant and future directions for cognitive research with elephants in zoological settings

The field of animal cognition has grown steadily for nearly four decades, but the primary focus has centered on easily kept lab animals of varying cognitive capacity, including rodents, birds and primates. Elephants (animals not easily kept in a laboratory) are generally thought of as highly social, cooperative, intelligent animals, yet few studies—with the exception […]

Paleoenvironmental basis of cognitive evolution in great apes

A bias favoring tree-dominated habitats and ripe-fruit frugivory has persisted in great ape evolution since the early Miocene. This bias is indicated by fossil ape paleoenvironments, molar morphology, dental microwear, the geographic pattern of extinctions, and extant apes’ reliance on wooded settings. The ephemeral aspect of high-quality fruit has placed a premium on cognitive and […]

New perspectives in primate cognitive ecology

The papers in this issue are from a symposium presented at the 71st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists held in Buffalo, New York, in April 2002. In the light of recent theoretical and methodological advances and debates in the study of cognition, this symposium addressed questions concerning primate cognitive ecology and […]

Avian sleep homeostasis: Convergent evolution of complex brains, cognition and sleep functions in mammals and birds

Birds are the only taxonomic group other than mammals that exhibit high-amplitude slow-waves in the electroencephalogram (EEG) during sleep. This defining feature of slow-wave sleep (SWS) apparently evolved independently inmammals and birds, as reptiles do not exhibit similar EEG activity during sleep. In mammals, the level of slow-wave activity (SWA) (low-frequency spectral power density) during […]